While most of the world’s electricity supply is produced from fossil fuels, such as coal, natural gas and oil, they face endless challenges including growing environmental concerns, rising prices and not to forget, security concerns over dependence on imports from a few countries which have compelling fossil fuel supplies. Governments and businesses have now started supporting the development of renewable resources like solar, windpower, biomass, geothermal and hydroelectric.
Solar energy is produced by the sun and can be utilised like any other energy to run homes, businesses etc. One can feel the warmth of it on a sunny day in winters and that energy can be defined as thermal energy. In order to utilize the energy produced by the sun and turn it into electricity, solar cells are needed. These solar cells collect and transform solar energy into electricity. Solar cells are basically in the form of panels and face the direction of the sun to capture rays as much as possible. To empower the culture of usage of electricity through solar energy, 8minutes came into being.
Founded by Dev Arora and Anuj Gupta in 2014, the startup helps customers who wants to save money on their energy bills, install Solar on their rooftop with little or no upfront cost by providing them an access to financing and connecting them with the nearest installer.
Dev pursued computer science from NIT Kurukshetra, after which he worked at GMR airport for two years as an airports consultant. He then joined a startup in Delhi called Qlicket. While Anuj is a graduate from NIT Jaipur and has worked with GMR Airport as business development executive and that is where he met Dev.
“We’re at a defining point in history. What’s happening today, happened to the microprocessor industry in the 1980’s. Like there’s Moore’s law in microprocessors, there’s Swanson’s law in clean energy which states that doubling of manufacturing capacity of solar results in a cost reduction of about 25% every 2 years. For instance, the price of solar was Rs 17/unit 5 years ago, today which has come down to Rs 6/unit. SO that makes clean energy cheaper than electricity produced by burning fossil fuels,” said Dev
People can drop a consultation request on their portal and enter basic details, electricity bill etc, while the company uses satellite view to analyse the rooftop of that place. After the analysis has been done, 8minutes gets back to the user with details like savings if they choose to install the device, the size of device that’ll be required and other minor details to help one understand the benefits of it.
The company offers three basic plans:
- Minute Purchase: In this plan a user pays full upfront cost and can avail the energy produced by the system for free. Through this one can save upto 90% of their electricity bill with the topping of government subsidies and tax benefits.
- Minutes Lease: The user pays a down payment and the rest of the amount as EMIs. The company claims the price to be less than user’s monthly electricity bill. Nothing changes in the ‘government subsidies and tax benefits’ part.
- Minute Power: The user pays no upfront cost for the installed solar system, rather pays a monthly bill by units (Rs 6/unit). Now this includes no installation or maintenance charge. The customer pays for the amount consumed, to take part in this plan the company makes one sign a 20 year agreement for using clean solar power.
Monetisation & Traction
The company is accumulating financing and installation companies and providing end-to-end services to a user.
- When a user signs up for the services they sign a 20 year contract in which they agree to buy electricity from 8minutes at a fixed rate. “The customers lock in at a fixed rate, every month they pay an energy bill.”
- On the other hand, the company monetises through purchase of the solar systems. Dev further added that they sell the systems to investors. So now the asset is owned by the investor and he can claim the precision on his book.
The company is aggregating multiple portfolios, projects in homes & businesses and selling these power purchase agreements to investors. “We have a customer lifetime value of 20 years, and we want to capture not just solar but the smart home market. We’re already in your home providing energy but now we want to create an energy efficient environment. By collecting the data, we will recommend our customers to use energy efficient appliances too with smarthome OEMs.”
Dev stated that they want to develop a system where the user just by entering his address will be able to know the energy potential of your rooftop i.e how many panels can be installed on one’s rooftop. By taking various values and datasets, we’re able to quantify shading analysis, radiance falling on your rooftop, different obstructions, shadow analysis etc. Not only this but the system will be able to generate the cost required for a setup and how much can you save just by using solar power.
Funding & Market
The company is looking to raise seed round and is actively in touch with investors.
According to a report published in ibef, around 293 global and domestic companies have committed to generate 266 GW of solar, wind, mini-hydel and biomass-based power in India over the next 5–10 years. The initiative would entail an investment of about US$ 310–350 billion. Between April 2000 and September 2015, the industry attracted US$ 9.97 billion in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).