Mangal Akole intends to turn solar thermal into a mass market in the Western Indian state of Maharashtra. The Managing Director of Indian solar thermal manufacturer Akson’s Solar and pioneer of Indian’s solar thermal sector was elected President of the Maharashtra Solar Manufacturers’ Association (MASMA).
Akole will be the 5th President of the association, which was founded in 2000. Sanjay Deshmukh, Managing Director of solar water heater manufacturer Pearl Enterprises, was named Secretary. With a total of 1 million m2, Maharashtra state is second only to Karnataka state in the number of totally installed collector area. As the entire collector area installed in the country adds up to around 4 million m2, every fourth collector ultimately found its way to Maharashtra.
Maharashtra is the most industrialized state in India and its 23 municipal corporations are the highest number of any state in the country. Since 2007, 16 of them have passed solar bye-laws, which mandate the use of solar water heaters in all newly constructed and residential one-family houses. Two of the municipal corporations – Thane and Kalyan-Dombivli – also implemented laws on mandating the use of solar water heater in large residential buildings with a floor space of 150 m2 or above.
The majority of the manufacturers organized in MASMA are satisfied with the bye-laws, the author noted when questioning the industry in the state. For example, manufacturers Bipin Engineers and Akson’s Solar have seen steady growth rates of 15 to 20% since the first mandatory laws where implemented 4 years ago.
At present, MASMA has over 70 members, among them manufacturers, system integrators and service providers. The association runs an office in the company of the president and has no permanent employee.
According to MASMA, the new president will focus on awareness-raising measures and events in cooperation with other like-minded associations and governmental bodies to turn solar thermal technology into a mass market in the state. MASMA also would like to create a task force for implementing the nation’s 2001 Energy Conservation Act in the state of Maharashtra and convincing municipal corporations to ensure that solar thermal systems help reduce peak electricity demand and make the state self-sufficient in its energy supply.