3 reasons why rooftop solar in India is a revolution in making

Vineet Mittal, Vice Chairman at Welspun Renewables depicts the rooftop solar power potential in India
  India’s immense potential of generating power from solar panels mounted on rooftops unfortunately remains highly underrated. Considering that India has over 300 sunny days in a year and abundant rooftop space, especially in the rural landscape, much of its potential remains unexplored. Of the ambitious 100 GW solar power generation target set by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, India aims to achieve 40 GW through rooftop solar installations by 2022. The country currently has less than 300 MW installed rooftop capacities. India is however adding rooftop capacities rapidly due to declining cost of technologies and batteries, encouragement from government and private sector and suitable policy measures.
Rural India is hugely dependent on grid connectivity for access to electricity. A significant number of rural Indians, regardless of grid connectivity, continue to rely upon diesel for energy. This neither economically nor ecologically sustainable.
1. Long-term sustainable solutionRooftop solar is an extremely reliable and long-term source of power. Unlike grid-level solar energy projects, rooftop solar is useful throughout the day (day and night) since the household batteries can store electricity that can utilised during night. This also eliminates the enormous transmission, theft and distribution losses the conventional grid system faces. Moreover, rooftop solar energy in India is very useful for both household and industrial consumption. Large scale industries are realising the growing importance of rooftop solar since their peak hour consumption coincides with the highest intensity generation period of rooftop solar. Fundamentally, rooftop solar does not require Megawatt scale grid connectivity, since it is a micro-grid system connected directly to smaller units of households, hamlets or villages. It also eliminates the challenge and delays of land acquisition, environmental and other clearances which make it an easily executable option. The micro grid system involves almost no recurring cost after installation. The maintenance costs of rooftop solar are almost negligible when compared with conventional sources of energy. Above all, rooftop solar empowers the communities and individuals in a huge way since the households become energy efficient and can possibly also trade electricity with the state electricity boards. It has the potential to become an all-encompassing livelihood model for the underprivileged in the long-run. Germany has set a viable model of rooftop solar which has made the nation power surplus and also created livelihood opportunities for millions.
2. Minimises climate risks, reduces carbon footprintRural India consumes over 2 billion litres of diesel every year. Diesel fuel in India is subsidised by over Rs 10 per litre. According to a World Bank report, if the cost of subsidy was taken into account then diesel would be the most expensive source of energy in the country (over Rs 15 per unit). According to a report by consulting firm AT Kearney, India spends about Rs 8,500 crore a year on diesel to keep its telecom towers running. Despite such high fossil fuel consumption, India has one of the lowest per capita emissions among the developing economies. This can be brought down further through rooftop solar power generation which will provide cheap electricity, a source of income and clean energy. A large number of small scale industries, educational institutes and hospitals continue to depend upon fossil fuels for energy which can be easily replaced with more profitable rooftop solar option with a small capital investment. The central government has initiated a reward system to support states with high afforestation targets. This program can gain significant momentum by accelerating rooftop solar energy projects and in turn, involving communities in massive tree-plantation drives.
3. Favourable policiesMost Indian states have opened up phenomenally to the idea of rooftop solar in the last two years. Almost every major state (which has decent solar irradiation) has a comprehensive standalone policy to encourage installation of rooftop solar. States like Haryana has moving swiftly in executing its rooftop policy. The Haryana government has made it mandatory for any building with 500 square yards plot size or more to install such systems. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister made a similar policy announcement recently which makes rooftop solar mandatory for all new buildings. Gujarat is creating large solar cities which have rooftop solar as the key focal point. High solar radiation states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka are also moving rapidly in this direction. The government in Delhi, the world’s most polluted city, is drafting a comprehensive strategy to increase rooftop solar installation in the city state. In urban India, shopping malls, hospitals and educational institutes are bullish about the rooftop opportunity.
Clearing the stumbling blocksIn the next five years, a significant portion of the 40 GW rooftop solar capacities under the National Solar Mission are expected to see the light of the day. But this will not come without its share of challenges. Many rooftops in the country are either occupied by air conditions or are expensive. Insufficient storage technology is another major roadblock. Low-cost batteries with high capacities and efficient solar modules can hasten the rooftop solar sector in a huge way. While major state governments have offered subsidies on procurement of solar technologies and low-cost finance, many state governments and municipal corporations are yet to take initiatives in this direction. Development of cheap storage technologies will become a game-changer in this sector since it is an important component of the solar micro grid. Another important lesson India can learn from its foreign counterparts is the net metering policy. India is capable and equipped to provide both self-owned and third-party owned net metering systems. The third party-owned rooftop system can become a commercially viable option for both the owner of rooftop as well as the developer. The possibility of power utilities buying surplus electricity from households (which is a common practice in many countries) has not even been made a part of the public discourse. It is crucial that the states and the centre work together to clear these blocks.
The way forwardIn the last few years, the much-needed clarity on rooftop solar has been laid down by the central and state governments. Though the cost of technologies has come down dramatically in the past five years, many Indian households are reluctant to make the high initial cost of investment. The government’s role would be crucial in providing subsidies and low-cost micro finance to the people to boost rooftop solar. High labour and land costs are also dampeners for rooftop, which could be brought down via active government interventions. Since a large number of Indian households, especially the rural folks, use diesel generators and wood as primary source of energy, rooftop solar power generation will bring the usage of fossil fuels down significantly and decrease emissions and environmental degradation. This will also ease the burden on state electricity boards during peak hours.
Changing the rooftop discourseThe mindset of the people and developers must change towards rooftop solar to attain the set capacity target. Unless we see energy as a pressing socio-economic need for the 300 million Indians who continue to remain alien to uninterrupted electricity, rooftop will have to fight its way to its destination. There is an urgent need for spreading awareness among the people regarding the growing danger of climate change. Indian cities in particular are highly vulnerable to growing emissions. According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 13 of the top 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India. This is a major threat to the health of children in Asia’s third largest economy. Boost to rooftop solar can considerably minimise this looming danger which is costing hugely to health and environment of the nation.
Authored by__Vineet Mittal, Vice Chairman, Welspun Renewables————————————————————————————–
Authored by__Vineet Mittal, Vice Chairman, Welspun Renewables

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3 reasons why rooftop solar in India is a revolution in making

Vineet Mittal, Vice Chairman at Welspun Renewables depicts the rooftop solar power potential in India
  India’s immense potential of generating power from solar panels mounted on rooftops unfortunately remains highly underrated. Considering that India has over 300 sunny days in a year and abundant rooftop space, especially in the rural landscape, much of its potential remains unexplored. Of the ambitious 100 GW solar power generation target set by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, India aims to achieve 40 GW through rooftop solar installations by 2022. The country currently has less than 300 MW installed rooftop capacities. India is however adding rooftop capacities rapidly due to declining cost of technologies and batteries, encouragement from government and private sector and suitable policy measures.
Rural India is hugely dependent on grid connectivity for access to electricity. A significant number of rural Indians, regardless of grid connectivity, continue to rely upon diesel for energy. This neither economically nor ecologically sustainable.
1. Long-term sustainable solutionRooftop solar is an extremely reliable and long-term source of power. Unlike grid-level solar energy projects, rooftop solar is useful throughout the day (day and night) since the household batteries can store electricity that can utilised during night. This also eliminates the enormous transmission, theft and distribution losses the conventional grid system faces. Moreover, rooftop solar energy in India is very useful for both household and industrial consumption. Large scale industries are realising the growing importance of rooftop solar since their peak hour consumption coincides with the highest intensity generation period of rooftop solar. Fundamentally, rooftop solar does not require Megawatt scale grid connectivity, since it is a micro-grid system connected directly to smaller units of households, hamlets or villages. It also eliminates the challenge and delays of land acquisition, environmental and other clearances which make it an easily executable option. The micro grid system involves almost no recurring cost after installation. The maintenance costs of rooftop solar are almost negligible when compared with conventional sources of energy. Above all, rooftop solar empowers the communities and individuals in a huge way since the households become energy efficient and can possibly also trade electricity with the state electricity boards. It has the potential to become an all-encompassing livelihood model for the underprivileged in the long-run. Germany has set a viable model of rooftop solar which has made the nation power surplus and also created livelihood opportunities for millions.
2. Minimises climate risks, reduces carbon footprintRural India consumes over 2 billion litres of diesel every year. Diesel fuel in India is subsidised by over Rs 10 per litre. According to a World Bank report, if the cost of subsidy was taken into account then diesel would be the most expensive source of energy in the country (over Rs 15 per unit). According to a report by consulting firm AT Kearney, India spends about Rs 8,500 crore a year on diesel to keep its telecom towers running. Despite such high fossil fuel consumption, India has one of the lowest per capita emissions among the developing economies. This can be brought down further through rooftop solar power generation which will provide cheap electricity, a source of income and clean energy. A large number of small scale industries, educational institutes and hospitals continue to depend upon fossil fuels for energy which can be easily replaced with more profitable rooftop solar option with a small capital investment. The central government has initiated a reward system to support states with high afforestation targets. This program can gain significant momentum by accelerating rooftop solar energy projects and in turn, involving communities in massive tree-plantation drives.
3. Favourable policiesMost Indian states have opened up phenomenally to the idea of rooftop solar in the last two years. Almost every major state (which has decent solar irradiation) has a comprehensive standalone policy to encourage installation of rooftop solar. States like Haryana has moving swiftly in executing its rooftop policy. The Haryana government has made it mandatory for any building with 500 square yards plot size or more to install such systems. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister made a similar policy announcement recently which makes rooftop solar mandatory for all new buildings. Gujarat is creating large solar cities which have rooftop solar as the key focal point. High solar radiation states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka are also moving rapidly in this direction. The government in Delhi, the world’s most polluted city, is drafting a comprehensive strategy to increase rooftop solar installation in the city state. In urban India, shopping malls, hospitals and educational institutes are bullish about the rooftop opportunity.
Clearing the stumbling blocksIn the next five years, a significant portion of the 40 GW rooftop solar capacities under the National Solar Mission are expected to see the light of the day. But this will not come without its share of challenges. Many rooftops in the country are either occupied by air conditions or are expensive. Insufficient storage technology is another major roadblock. Low-cost batteries with high capacities and efficient solar modules can hasten the rooftop solar sector in a huge way. While major state governments have offered subsidies on procurement of solar technologies and low-cost finance, many state governments and municipal corporations are yet to take initiatives in this direction. Development of cheap storage technologies will become a game-changer in this sector since it is an important component of the solar micro grid. Another important lesson India can learn from its foreign counterparts is the net metering policy. India is capable and equipped to provide both self-owned and third-party owned net metering systems. The third party-owned rooftop system can become a commercially viable option for both the owner of rooftop as well as the developer. The possibility of power utilities buying surplus electricity from households (which is a common practice in many countries) has not even been made a part of the public discourse. It is crucial that the states and the centre work together to clear these blocks.
The way forwardIn the last few years, the much-needed clarity on rooftop solar has been laid down by the central and state governments. Though the cost of technologies has come down dramatically in the past five years, many Indian households are reluctant to make the high initial cost of investment. The government’s role would be crucial in providing subsidies and low-cost micro finance to the people to boost rooftop solar. High labour and land costs are also dampeners for rooftop, which could be brought down via active government interventions. Since a large number of Indian households, especially the rural folks, use diesel generators and wood as primary source of energy, rooftop solar power generation will bring the usage of fossil fuels down significantly and decrease emissions and environmental degradation. This will also ease the burden on state electricity boards during peak hours.
Changing the rooftop discourseThe mindset of the people and developers must change towards rooftop solar to attain the set capacity target. Unless we see energy as a pressing socio-economic need for the 300 million Indians who continue to remain alien to uninterrupted electricity, rooftop will have to fight its way to its destination. There is an urgent need for spreading awareness among the people regarding the growing danger of climate change. Indian cities in particular are highly vulnerable to growing emissions. According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 13 of the top 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India. This is a major threat to the health of children in Asia’s third largest economy. Boost to rooftop solar can considerably minimise this looming danger which is costing hugely to health and environment of the nation.
Authored by__Vineet Mittal, Vice Chairman, Welspun Renewables————————————————————————————–
Authored by__Vineet Mittal, Vice Chairman, Welspun Renewables

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