Special Report

40 GW Rooftop Solar: Too hot to handle?

An exclusive story on India’s target of 40 GW solar power generation from rooftop

Solar rooftop is the most efficient application of solar energy to mitigate climate change issues and achieve India’s ambitious commitment to achieve 175 GW of RE by 2022. Rooftop applications are supposed to contribute 40 GW towards the total 100 GW of solar capacity of India. However, there are some challenges that are acting as barriers in rapid progress of rooftop installations. India’s target of 40 GW solar rooftop power generation RK Sharma, Executive Director – Marketing, Refex Energy Ltd shares, “The Government sector could have contributed significantly better in RTS installations. Lack of awareness of benefits of solar energy to the general public could be a reason for the domestic sector not showing interest despite government offering 30 to 70 per cent subsidies and credit of surplus solar power through net-metering. Securing DISCOM’s approval on net-metering is challenge in most states. One of the possible boosts to domestic RTS segment could be by upfront providing the subsidy and incentive to the consumers. The industry and commercial establishments have been removed from the subsidy regime for RTS, too soon.”

Aditya Handa, MD & CEO, Abellon CleanEnergy Ltd informs, “The reason for this gap in the solar rooftop target could be the absence of uniform state-level policy initiatives especially around net metering that allows users to sell surplus power to electricity utilities. Further, the residential rooftop solar market is predominantly subsidy driven, and therefore, long-term clarity is needed to enable developers and service providers to make necessary investments to reach required scale. The segment will benefit from enhanced stability and clarity on policy and fiscal incentives.”

According to Gajanan Nabar, CEO, CleanMax Solar, “India has been on track to meet its target of 40 GW of rooftop solar energy capacity by 2022. Considering the trajectory India is on and with regards to solar capacity addition, real volumes have started coming in and it’s accelerating too. If that trajectory is to continue over the next few years, it certainly looks positive to achieve that number. However, some significant changes that can be brought about are introduction of long-term banking policies, removing artificial capping on net metering and incentivise DISCOMS to become enablers.

Krishnendu Mukherjee, COO, Sova Solar Ltd states, 40 GW solar power generation from rooftops are on a very higher side. We have seen the attempt of SECI fail. The tenders were for 1.5 GW but the achievement was nowhere around. So, some frustration remains but we should be hopeful. There is another 4 years remaining to reach the magic year 2022, also the time we will be celebrating our 75 years of our Independence. Anything can happen, never lose your hope.”

According to Kaustav Sen, Business Head – Solar, KEC International Ltd, “Distributed solar installation is peaking up in India on the back of the favourable policies such as net-metering regulations; the pace is still well below what is required to meet the original National Solar Mission (NSM) target. Identification and access to roofs, especially in government buildings and institutions from where the impetus is expected, is quite slow. In order to achieve the NSM target, an estimated 9 to 9.5 GW of rooftop installations per year is required which seems ambitious. Volatility in module prices is currently a dampener, but with the reduction in demand for Chinese solar equipment and a push towards Make in India, module availability at competitive prices should not be a constraint, going forward.”

Simarpreet Singh, Director, Hartek Group states, “We have managed to install only 2 GW of rooftop solar capacity so far, while the target for financial year 2017-18 alone was 5 GW. Considering the sluggish progress, achieving the 40-GW target in the next four years will be an uphill task. While most of the installations have come from schemes for government-based projects, commercial and industrial installations have gained momentum only in the past two years.”

However, looking at the brighter side, this segment is growing rapidly and beginning to realise its potential, largely due to increasing cost competitiveness of rooftop solar power vis-a-vis grid power. The residential market is expected to pick up in the coming years on account of better policy support, incentive-linked mechanism, provision for mandatory installations, lowering of solar capital costs and substantial demand from the public sector.

NR Khushalani, Vice President-Marketing, Business Development, Polycab Wires Pvt Ltd informs, As per the MNRE, the cumulative solar installed capacity in the country is around 20.8GW of solar ground mounted projects and 1.06GW of solar rooftop projects, respectively till Mar 2018 against the target of 5GW. There is a huge gap between the set target and actual installed capacity. The major issues behind the slow growth of the solar rooftop sector being:

Irregular policy and subsidies
Almost every state has set its own solar policy, regulations and procedures to be followed for installing solar rooftop projects in their respective states. So, in nutshell there is non-uniform policy across the states which makes it difficult for managing overall state of affairs.

The solar project installer has to be empanelled with respective State Nodal Agencies to claim the subsidies for their clients. The overall documentation for approval and getting subsidies to their client account takes very long time.

Net-metering procedures
Many solar projects are stuck due to delay in getting approvals from local DISCOM for solar net-metering. At an average, it takes around 2 to 3 months for getting these approvals. The installed solar grid-tie project cannot be synchronised with local grid and the customer cannot enjoy benefits of solar energy even after its commissioning due to this delay.

Financial support
It’s very difficult to get the financial support or loan from a leading public sector undertaking(PSU) banks and other lenders for a specific solar project without collateral. It’s a major problem faced by many customers as well as solar installers.

Awareness of solar products
Many people are not aware about product quality, reliability, post-sale and service support, company background and future. Generally, they opt for the solar system equipment as suggested by EPC companies or system integrators. Help the consumer to choose right products and right company. Spread awarness about solar system

To sum up the present scenario, it appears that unless these hurdles are not removed, ease of business for both system integrators and EPC players will not become a reality and the expected pace of the ambitious growth of solar rooftop will get impacted.

Jeetendra Saraf, Founder, Newtronics Green Energy acknowledges, “Yeah, it’s too hot to handle the target of 60 GW of ground-mounted and 40 GW of rooftop by 2022. For India’s solar power targets to be met, the rooftop part of the story will have to take off. Against the given target, we have set up around 16 GW of ground-mounted and 1 GW of rooftop solar. The dependency of rooftop solar is on the capital subsidy being provided. There is already a backlog running with MNRE for payment, which fears newer installation. Also, the states aren’t clear about their net metering policies. There are no policy initiatives to support rooftop solar, especially effective net-metering implementation and offering incentives in order to attract financial investors.

Jeetendra also informs, “In order to achieve an ambitious target of 40GW of Rooftop solar by 2022, we will have to make some changes upon the policies; there is no need to have cap on the sanctioned load. It should be allowed up to the average usage of the consumer.

MNRE has approved State Bank of India and several other nationalised banks to offer loan for installation of grid connected rooftop PV along with the applicable subsidy and directed them to encourage people to install rooftop solar PVs and include the cost of such equipment in their home loan proposals.

Innovation in the solar rooftop power generation
Aditya informs, “Abellon has developed strong capabilities in delivering bespoke solutions across the residential, commercial, and industrial customer segments. The installations are technically superior, aesthetically appealing, and also are taken into consideration the specific constraints and requirements of each installation – enabling us to deliver maximum value to our customers.

Aditya also shares, “Apart from fixed type of installations, we are particularly proud to have installed a significant capacity of single and dual axis tracking systems as well on rooftops that provide enhanced value to our customers.”

Gajanan says, “CleanMax continues to drive significant growth in the solar segment by focusing on corporates and some government and educational institutions. In FY 2017-18, we have completed 275 MW through open access solar farm in Karnataka which supplies power to some of our largest corporates in Bangalore. We now stand at a total installed capacity of 450 MW combining open access and rooftop solar till date.”

NR Khushalani also informs, “Polycab Wires Pvt. Ltd have ventured into a new solar energy segment with products such as Solar DC Cables and Solar Grid-tie String Inverters.”

Kaustav Sen discloses “We are all set to commission a 130 MWp ground mount solar plant by July 2018 for an Indian state utility. In addition, we have maintained good momentum in roof top projects and have successfully commissioned plants on factory sheds, RCC roofs as well as standalone car ports. In FY 2017-18, we commissioned the largest plant till date in Himachal Pradesh within 88 days, in a terrain which was quite challenging for ground mount solar.

RK Sharma states, “Our energy solutions are viable both in the near term and over the longer term providing maximum energy as well as financial incentives for our customers. It is with this passion that we aim to work and provide turnkey solar solutions to our customers from concept to commissioning and post commissioning. Company provides end-to-end solutions including engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for our customers seeking to build photovoltaic grid connected and off-grid solar power plants and systems, with consistently high plant performance.”

While most of the installations have come from schemes for government-based projects, commercial and industrial installations have gained momentum only in the past two years. Considering the sluggish progress, achieving the 40-GW target in the next four years may be an uphill task.

The reason for this gap in the solar rooftop target could be the absence of uniform state-level policy initiatives especially around net metering that allows users to sell surplus power to electricity utilities.
Aditya Handa, MD &
CEO, Abellon CleanEnergy Ltd

Securing DISCOM’s approval on net-metering is challenge in most states
RK Sharma, Executive Director –
Marketing, Refex Energy Ltd

Unviable duties like safeguard and anti-dumping which surface intermittently, will further slowdown the growth of the industry.
Gajanan Nabar, CEO,
CleanMax Solar

The tenders were for 1.5 GW but the achievement was no where around. So some frustration remains but we should be hopeful.
Krishnendu Mukherjee, COO,
Sova Solar Ltd

Distributed solar installation is peaking up in India on the back of favourable policies such as net-metering regulations
Kaustav Sen, Business Head – Solar,
KEC International Ltd

We have managed to install only 2 GW of rooftop solar capacity so far, while the target for financial year 2017-18 alone was 5 GW.
Simarpreet Singh,
Director, Hartek Group

Many solar projects are stuck due to delay in getting approvals from local DISCOM for solar net-metering.
NR Khushalani, Vice President-Marketing,
Business Development, Polycab Wires Pvt Ltd

The dependency of rooftop solar is on the capital subsidy being provided. There is already a backlog running with MNRE for payment, which fears newer installation.
Jeetendra Saraf,
Founder, Newtronics Green Energy

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