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Rooftop solar: The Indian scenario

Development of off-grid systems that are ‘Grid ready’ for rural and remote areas, and making by-laws for new buildings as ‘Rooftop ready’ should be the suggested goals for the future.

Indian solar growth has received commendations globally. However as India is moving ahead to achieve the target of 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022 and 100 GW solar power capacity, new challenges are being faced in rooftop solar PV’s target of 40 GW at different stages of installation and use. MNRE’s target to reach 40 GW capacities from grid connected solar rooftop installations by 2022 has been a primary driver behind this incredible growth. Existing rooftop solar PV plant installation reached to 1.6 GW. Still India has to install balance 38.4 GW by 2022 which is an opportunity as well as a challenge. The growth rate for Indian rooftop solar industry was more than 100 per cent in the last 12 months and moving upward strongly supporting the hopes of reaching the 40 GW mark within 2022.

The above picture may seem perfect at a glance, but there are still challenges that present themselves upon closer inspection. However, to draw a comparison we must put the present scenario and challenges side by side.

Current challenges & outlook
• Policy hurdles and lack of proper regulatory framework in many states.
• Availability of cheap funds.
• Consumer awareness and acceptance.
• Struggling indigenous manufacturing and lack of local supply chain.
• Installation technologies and skilled workforce.

Key factors for attaining rooftop solar PV targets in India
Growth drivers
• Skills in industry, regulators and utilities
• Maximising suitable rooftop space
• Mandates to drive adoption once viability and ecosystem in place.

Must do steps
• Reducing investor risk and providing a level playing field for investors
• Consumer awareness, support for system quality.

Fundamental steps
• Operationalising net metering – easy, quick connections
• A fair deal for utilities to secure their active support.

Conclusion
Rooftop solar PV can eliminate the requirement of precious land and transmission grid, which normally associated with large scale solar PV power plant. Also both of these are in shortage in India.

The solar rooftop installation targets in India is achievable subject to identifying and addressing the above challenges and for that, all stakeholders must work in cohesion.

To fulfil these impressive targets technology and investment have to be in the top gear. A review of rooftop PV installation in top solar countries have shown that residential and commercial sectors top in numbers in rooftop PV installation in most countries. An outlook for linking of solar energy targets with the current missions on ‘Make in India’, ‘Smart City Mission’ and ‘Digital India’ as promise for developing capabilities and transformation of entire power system in the country is recommended. Development of off-grid systems that are ‘Grid ready’ for rural and remote areas, and making by-laws for new buildings as ‘Rooftop ready’ should be the suggested goals for the future.

Authored by:
K J Shah, CMD
Zodiac Energy Limited
www.zodiacenergy.com

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