AI-powered software for solar sites accelerating transition towards clean energy
A global startup with headquarters in Saratoga, US and development centres in Bangalore and Abu Dhabi, SenseHawk is leading the charge to digitise the solar industry. Swarup Manvoor, CEO & Co-Founder, SenseHawk shares how the platform is used by over 80 customers to analyse over 28 GW of solar assets in 15 countries, and the future plans, with the world increasingly moving to renewable energy
The story of how you started SenseHawk, and what is your vision strategy?
Entrepreneurship often comes from a desire to make a difference in the world. Once we recognise a problem and realise we can be the one who solves it for someone, a fire is lit within us. That’s how SenseHawk came into existence.
It all started in January 2016 when our co-founders Rahul Sankhe and Swarup Mavanoor were having a discussion about cost overruns at a large solar construction site leading to a crisis at one of the world’s largest solar companies at the time. and the founders eventually ended up deciding to build software to prevent such events from occurring.
Ideas take time to brew, and that’s how Rahul and Swarup’s brainchild took a whole year to take form. Until March 2017, the duo had successfully conducted a series of pilot implementations across 20 sites with drones and software tools to give a solid foundation to their vision. Finally, in June 2018, SenseHawk, Inc. got incorporated in the US.
In September 2018, SenseHawk raised its first institutional round of funding from SAIF partners along with a successful beta-release with five customers. In September 2019, the company launched its core platform and a suite of solar applications. SenseHawk got a boost with yet another round of funding in September 2020, the company raised $5.1 million in Series A1 funding round by Alpha Wave Incubation (AWI) and existing investor SAIF Partners.
We have helped 80+ customers in 15 countries adopt new technology to manage their sites and assets. Starting with drones in development, construction and operations, our software tools have been expanding to make site work simpler and more efficient.
We are a global startup with our headquarters in Saratoga, CA and development centres in Bangalore, India and Abu Dhabi, UAE.
SenseHawk is a SaaS company that helps customers develop, build, and operate solar and other infrastructure sites through superior insights. SenseHawk’s cloud-based platform and application modules solve several challenges in the development, construction and operation of solar sites. Its application modules enable solar companies to reduce costs, enhance workforce productivity, and improve solar site performance leveraging sophisticated AI and machine learning models.
The company’s vision is to build a single solution to satisfy all our solar industry customers’ software needs. SenseHawk also plans to expand its presence to Abu Dhabi and use the Emirate as a global base for international expansion while also targeting the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and other global markets. SenseHawk will also build a world-class team of data scientists, product managers, and engineers located in Abu Dhabi.
Your views on how solar energy can be a solution to many of the climate issues that we face and how can your technology truly make a difference?
Rising concerns about climate change, the health effects of air pollution, energy security, and energy access, along with unstable oil prices in recent decades, have led to the need to generate and use alternative, low-carbon technology options such as renewables. Solar PV has been one of the pioneering renewable technologies over the decades.
The total installed capacity of solar PV reached 480 GW globally (excluding CSP) by the end of 2018, representing the second-largest renewable electricity source after wind. Last year, solar PV again dominated total renewable and power capacity additions, adding twice as much capacity as wind and more than all fossil fuels and nuclear together, solar PV additions reaching around 94 GW.
The development of the solar PV industry so far has been exceptional, with numerous milestones reached in recent years in terms of installations (including off-grid), cost reductions and technological advancements, and the establishment of key solar energy associations. Solar power will continue to be an essential renewables option in the coming decades. Solar PV will play a pre-eminent role in molding the global energy landscape by 2050.
How SenseHawk technology truly makes a difference? How are your tech solutions/platform helping the renewable energy sector?
SenseHawk solves major growing pains for the solar industry. The current approach to developing and operating solar farms is increasingly untenable, resulting in demand for software and standardisation of required processes and documentation; this is where SenseHawk comes into play. SenseHawk is a leader in AI-powered software for the solar site lifecycle.
The industry has evolved to rely on a tremendously rich and complicated supply chain, with dozens of operations and hundreds of counterparties involved in any given plant. SenseHawk is building a digital ecosystem to organise and manage every activity for maximum productivity, efficiency, and safety. Our software takes the guesswork out of solar farm inspection and, crucially, speeds up this process from days down to hours. This efficiency ensures that farm owners and operators can inspect utility-scale solar farms more quickly, easily, and accurately than ever before.
The SenseHawk platform uses a microservices architecture that enables us to easily build and integrate tools to serve both technical and business processes in the solar industry. We offer a powerful cloud-based platform and a completely integrated set of applications that support everything from solar plant design and construction to operation and maintenance. SenseHawk software has delivered data analytics for more than 28 GWs of solar assets across 15 countries worldwide.
Our deliverables are more accurate and affordable than traditional methods. SenseHawk is leading the charge to digitise the solar industry, rising in both immediate and long-term benefits. We make solar power more valuable and accelerate the transition towards clean energy.
Who are your target customers in India and the overseas markets?
The SenseHawk platform is used by over 80 customers to analyse over 28 GW of solar assets in 15 countries. The company is focused on expanding its offerings and customer base as the world increasingly moves to renewable energy. Global installed solar capacity is expected to increase from the current installed base of 600GW to 3000 GW worldwide in 2030. Moreover, SenseHawk is already expanding its market by serving customers in road infrastructure, power transmission, and construction industries and deepening its suite of offerings beyond solar.
SenseHawk aims to expand its presence to Abu Dhabi and use the Emirate as a global base for international expansion while also targeting the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and other global markets, including India.
Your focus on innovation.
The application modules on the SenseHawk platform support site and terrain management, construction monitoring, operations, thermography, work management, and file organization. A mobile app extends the platform’s power and brings data to field techs, so they have all the information they need at their fingertips. The mobile app also supports onsite navigation, enabling users to easily navigate to allocated tasks on sites with 1000s of acres in size.
Continuing on the track of innovation, we added three new applications to SenseHawk Core, its cloud-based solar platform. SenseHawk Core is a completely integrated set of applications to support everything from solar plant design and construction to operation and maintenance. The three new applications are SenseHawk App for site operations and collaboration, SenseHawk Desk for ticketing and workflow management, and SenseHawk Vault for file storage, indexing, and sharing.
With SenseHawk Core, solar companies can reimagine all their processes and significantly enhance productivity. We are committed to making every step of the way in solar as easy and seamless as possible. Be it a developer, EPC, O&M contractor, asset owner, independent engineer, or anyone else that works on a solar project; collaboration is easy using the SenseHawk platform and application modules.
What are your plans for the future – new products and solutions, as well as geographic expansion?
As part of the recent investment from AWI, SenseHawk will expand its presence to Abu Dhabi and use the Emirate as a global base for international expansion while also targeting the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and other global markets. SenseHawk will also build a world-class team of data scientists, product managers, and engineers located in Abu Dhabi.
The investment through Alpha Wave Incubation provides strategic access to the MENA market and powering the ongoing development of our software platform. The follow-on investment by SAIF Partners is a validation of our direction and reaffirms their commitment to being a long-term partner to the startups they invest in. Solar construction is on a fast trajectory, and this new funding enables us to continue to support designers, builders, and operators of this critical form of renewable energy.
Any key achievement?
Yes, there are plenty of achievements that we are proud of.
SenseHawk App is the first application to combine various critical productivity tools with an intuitive and easy-to-use interface for solar site workers in the field. In the past, field workers have struggled with old-fashioned pen and paper or standalone apps with limited functionality and cumbersome data-entry interfaces. SenseHawk App changes that and seamlessly digitalises site work.
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