Professor Ray Wills

Professor Ray Wills, who previously ran the Perth based Sustainable Energy Association of Australia, has joined Dr Dilawar Singh’s Sun Brilliance Group as a business partner to assist its expansion into the Indian solar power market.

Also joining the business is Kalwant Singh Dhillon, formerly with Ernst & Young in Singapore, and who has also held roles with the Sun Alliance Group, Western Australian Government operations and the Australian Investments and Securities Commission.

Dr Singh, who is company chairman, completed a PhD in solar energy 1984, receiving UNESCO’s Young Scientist Award in 1988. He has led the company into significant renewable energy work, including more than 1000 solar units installed in Australia and for a range of agencies in developing countries.

The company said it aims to be a world leader in the field.

Professor Wills told The Fifth Estate on Wednesday the company was working on a range of commercial solar installations on industrial property in Perth in the range of 30-40 kilowatts but the big news would come on large solar contract negotiations under way in India.

He hoped details of a 100-megawatt project would be announced soon, but a pipeline of 200-300 megawatts of solar projects were also under way with projects in a range of sizes from 1-2 megawatts to 100 megawatts.

The aim of the company’s large solar installations in India would be for the best price highest quality units, produced by “tier one” companies.

Panels were likely to be German, Chinese or Korean, with Australia supplying engineering expertise.

Professor Wills said there were a number of Australia-based companies picking up work in India in the renewable energy sector.

Key to the solar potential in India was Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of ambitious solar energy targets.

“India has 1.2 billion people. Roughly half live without sanitation and almost half without direct access to energy.”

Like China it was working on passing air pollution laws especially with motor vehicles and diesel trucks and closing down old coal fired power stations.

He said the advantage of solar was not needing to wait for coal fired power stations to be built, but the reality was that many people would be able to afford only small solar installations, perhaps around 100 or 200 watts, sufficient to power only lights and perhaps a television.

India intended to continue to use coal he said; the unfortunate part was that much of the pollution in Indian cities came from coal burning for heating and cooking, which would need larger, more expensive solar units to power.