“Let’s do something about it!” There’s no waiting around for someone else to fix things for these guys, they’re taking matters in their own hands — from skiing to raise money for the leprosy-afflicted to rewriting an unbiased history of India and Pakistan; recycling tyres and pushing solar energy to solutions for the hearing impaired and making earthquake relief count. Motherland picks out a bunch of promising superheroes from across the country, determined to light up the world we live in.
While the world frets — or should fret — over exhausting our reservoirs of non-renewable energy, there are young minds searching for alternative solutions. An obvious one is solar energy. Dev Arora, a 25-year-old engineer who studied at NIT Kurukshetra, realised the potential of the form, and founded 8Minutes in March last year — a platform that establishes an ecosystem promoting solar energy, connecting customers with installers and solar advocates so they can make the transition.
“After I quit my previous job, I wanted to do something that would solve at least one of the many problems that exist in our world today. I believe all of our work should be designed to bring about some form of change. The biggest problem to my mind was climate change, and I wanted to find the root cause and do something about it. I noticed that the way people consume energy affects the whole economy and the country, and I wanted to make that sustainable,” says Arora.
“How it works is that if someone signs up with us as a solar advocate, they go out and give a warm introduction to potential customers and prime them about 8minutes, what we do, and about solar energy in general. For every customer they convert, they get a hefty referral fee. For instance, the referral fee for a single unit like someone’s home is around Rs 20,000, and for referring an organisation, this can go up to Rs 1 lakh. We are looking to create solar entrepreneurs who will possibly leave their day jobs and work with us to convert more customers for us, a crucial part of the plan.”
The other aspect they focus on is financing. For instance, an individual interested in setting up a solar panel would need to shell out up to Rs 10-15 lakh on just the setup. It’s an amount that people might not be keen on spending for going green. “So, what we have done,” explains Dev, “is incentivised this process for people, where we tell them that we will install solar panels free of cost. They don’t have to pay for the hardware, for maintenance, or for installation. All they pay for is the power generated from this. Essentially, if one is paying Rs 10 per unit for electricity in Delhi, we will ask you to pay Rs 7 per unit, which is a direct 30% saving, no investment, and you go green,” says Arora.
The organisation has tied-up with investors who provide finances and get high monthly returns. They do a formal financial due-diligence before they offer to set up free solar installations and they make sure the customers are credit-worthy, because the contract that they sign with a household setup, for instance, is a 20-year-long commitment. It’s still a new initiative, just over 10 months old, that Dev started with a partner, and they have so far converted 11 customers, gathering a total capacity of 1.5 megawatts. This count includes homes, education institutions, and industries.
Arora envisions a future where 8Minutes can help make solar energy the primary form of energy for homes and businesses out there. “The platform we are building is going to allow us to scale much faster than you’d hope. India has the potential of going 40% on renewable energy by 2030, and we hope to capture a significant chunk of that market. We are actually the first company in India that focusses on homes. For residential work, we are currently limited to Delhi and Gurgaon, but in terms of commercial business, we are operating across India.”