Solar Rooftops in India

Table of Contents

Introduction

The various research works on the fossil fuels suggests only one important thing as their bottom line – “Fossil fuels are not available infinitely inside the Earth’s crust and they are going to dry up in upcoming 60-70 years”. Hence all over the world, it caused in the massive acceptance of renewable energy as an alternative source fuel generation.

With respect to India’s energy generation scenario – the solar energy is the next big thing in the distant future. In addition to that, currently India is at the 6th rank in the solar energy producing country list and it has several reasons to back it up and are given below:

  1. The tropic of cancer passes through 8 states of India.
  2. Due to this the average temperature of India as a nation is 25.8 deg. Celsius.
  3. Ample amount of land availability across the various states for large grid connected solar farms.
  4. Solar panel manufacturing and installing is cheap as compared to other solar energy producing nations.

These above 4 factors are also responsible for the growth of solar rooftop installations across the nation and this article mainly focuses on the solar rooftop scenario in India.

Role of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in solar rooftop initiative

MNRE Year-wise solar targets
Fig. 1: MNRE [1]

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is a Ministry of Government of India, primarily responsible for R&D, intellectual property protection and international cooperation, promotion and coordination of renewable energy sources such as wind, small hydro, biogas and solar. The ministry’s broad objective is to develop and deploy new and renewable energy to supplement India’s energy requirements.

The mission of MNRE is given below:

  1. Energy security: less dependence on imports of oil through the development and deployment of alternative fuels (hydrogen, biofuels and synthetic fuels) and their applications to help bridge the gap between supply and demand of domestic oil.
  2. Increase in the share of clean power: renewable electricity (bio, wind, hydro, solar, geothermal & tidal) to supplement the generation of electricity based on fossil fuels.
  3. Access to it and availability of energy: supplementing the energy needs of the rural, urban, industrial and commercial sectors of cooking, heating, motive energy and captive generation.
  4. Energy affordability: cost-competitive, convenient, secure and reliable supply options for new and renewable energy sources.
  5. Energy Equity: per capita energy consumption through a sustainable and diverse fuel mix at par with the global average level by 2050.

Besides, in case of the solar rooftop, there are several advantages of solar rooftops over any other type of solar panel installation such as:

  1. Very low transmission and distribution losses
  2. No additional land required
  3. No need of additional battery banks which ultimately makes the installation much easier.
  4.  There is a noticeable reduction in system congestion as the solar rooftops have the higher self-consumption capacity of solar electricity.

After considering all the above advantages, the MNRE has allotted the 40% of the total 1,00,000 MW i.e. 40,000 MW to the solar rooftop projects (as it includes the rooftop projects of industrial, residential, commercial and institutional buildings) in their “Solar Power by 2022” initiative.

360.81 MW of Solar rooftop projects are sanctioned by MNRE and 54.18 MW are commissioned
SectorInstalled by SECI (MW)Installed by States (MW)Total installed (MW)
Commercial10.9017.2228.91
Government3.044.897.25
Hospital1.60.472.07
Institutional2.195.138.3
Religious institution0.627.527.64
Residential00.290.29
Total18.3535.5354.18

SUPRABHA India

SUPRABHA
Fig. 2: SUPRABHA [2]

SUPRABHA, or Rooftop Solar Acceleration Sustainable Partnership in Bharat, is a programme led by the World Bank and the State Bank of India. This scheme is implemented in collaboration with the MNRE and is a plan of $13 million. It is basically a five-year programme for solar technical assistance. The World Bank has allocated $625 million in funding to boost solar rooftops in India and has entrusted SBI with disbursing the same amount. The State Bank of India has undertaken the herculean task of raising awareness of the easy availability of finance and facilitating the nationwide uptake of solar PV rooftop installations.

Technical assistance under this programme will be provided to the 14 Indian States of Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Chandigarh and Delhi. This will help to support the faster adoption of solar rooftops connected to the grid. The governments of Meghalaya and Sikkim have already been involved in formulating their rooftop solar policies. The system has been effective in stimulating demand aggregation support for bidding for more than 120 MW to date by partner states such as Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh. The SUPRABHA system covers a broad range of stakeholders, including customers, regulators, distribution companies, financial institutions and entrepreneurs.

Current capacity scenario of solar rooftop in India

In the current scenario, the Indian central government pays 30% of the benchmarked installation cost for rooftop PV system. This subsidy is application for all across the states in India, under the general category. In addition to that, a subsidy of 70% of the installation cost is paid by the government in some states which comes under the special category. In this special category, there are several states such as Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Lakshadweep.

 Power Generation Capacity (MW) data is given below as on 29 February 2020
Sr. No.StatesRooftop Solar Capacity (MW)Total Solar Power Generation Capacity (MW)
1Gujarat468.92886.16
2Karnataka232.777277.93
3Rajasthan2245035.08
4Maharashtra219.561801.80
5Delhi156.2165.16
6Tamil Nadu1553915.88
7Uttar Pradesh146.111095.10
8Haryana121.34252.14
9Punjab118.52947.10
10Telangana90.463620.75

India is blessed with ample free solar power. India could easily generate 5,000 trillion kWh of solar energy by using the country’s deserts and farmland and taking advantage of 300 to 330 sunny days a year. In other words, India as a nation can generate up to 1000 GW of solar energy (which is four times greater than the current capacity of 250 GW) by using just 0.5% of the land.

Production capacity over the years

JNNSM (2010)

On 16th June 2010, The MNRE (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy), under the guidance of Govt. of India launched a mission called Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), a major initiative by the Government of India and State Governments to promote environmentally sustainable growth while addressing the challenge of India’s energy security. It will also be India’s major contribution to the global effort to address the challenges posed by climate change. The immediate objective of the mission is to focus both at a centralised and decentralised level on the establishment of an enabling environment for solar technology penetration in the country. This mission is distributed in three different phases and are stated below:

Application SegmentTarget for Phase – 1 (2010-13)Target for Phase – 2 (2013-17)Target for Phase – 3 (2017-22)
Grid solar power (large plants, rooftop and distribution grid plants)1100 MW10,000 MW20,000 MW
Off-grid solar applications200 MW1000 MW2000 MW
Solar thermal collectors (SWHs, solar cooking/cooling, industrial process heat applications)7 million sq. meters15 million sq. meters20 million sq. meters
Solar lighting system5 million10 million20 million

CAPEX

Fig. 3: CAPEX [3]

The most widespread type of solar power plant business model in India is CAPEX. Generally, consumers hire a solar EPC company in this model that provides turnkey installation of the entire solar power system and hands over assets to customers.

  1. Allow the system to be owned by residential, industrial and commercial customers.
  2. The client is setting up a solar rooftop project to reduce its own energy costs.
  3. The customer is responsible for the project’s entire capital expenditure.
  4. Customers benefit from the sale to DISCOM of the surplus power generated.
  5. The gains from tariff savings are attributed to the owner of the roof and solar power plant.
  6. The accelerated depreciation could also be claimed by commercial & institutional customers.
  7. At mutually agreed costs per annum, EPC also conducts annual operation and maintenance (O&M) of the plant.

RESCO

Fig. 4: RESCO [4]

The Renewable Energy Service Company (RESCO) is an ESCO Energy Service Company that supplies renewable energy sources, typically solar photovoltaics, wind power or micro hydro, with energy for consumers. As you consume electricity, the model of RESCO or BOOT is about pay.

  1. The Solar Power Plant is owned by RESCO (Energy Company) or ENERCO.
  2. The customer is not the owner of the solar power plant.
  3. At mutually agreed tariff and tenure, the client must sign a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the actual investor.
  4. The customer only pays for electricity consumed on the basis of power at a per unit price.
  5. For its annual operations & maintenance (O&M), the developer of RESCO is responsible.
  6. By selling the surplus power generated to the DISCOM, the RESCO gets the added benefit.

Net and Gross metering

It is easier and quicker than ever to generate electricity. In the last decade, dramatic price declines, combined with policy incentives for rooftop systems, have enabled consumers to install solar systems on their rooftops. However, since electricity storage is costly, systems are often connected to the grid so that deficits can be exported to the grid and deficits can be imported from the grid. In designing the solar rooftop system regulations, Gross and Net metering, two arrangements are often defined by the Indian government.

In case of Net metering, the Net metering is an arrangement where electricity exports are adjusted against imports and the electricity bill is reduced in such a way that the electricity produced is deducted over a fixed period from the total electricity consumed. The modification can be done either on a monthly, semi-annual or annual basis. A bidirectional ‘net meter’ typically accounts for both energy import and export. If the electricity exported exceeds the electricity imported, the consumer may or may not be compensated for the excess electricity that is fed into the grid.

On the other hand, Gross metering is an arrangement in which the consumer is compensated for the total number of units of solar energy generated and exported to the grid at a fixed feed-in tariff (accounted for by a unidirectional ‘gross meter’) and has to pay the electricity distribution company (DISCOM) for the electricity consumed from the grid at a retail supply tariff. Different rates are typically the feed-in tariff and retail supply tariff.

On and Off-grid in India

In case of On-grid solar system, On-grid solar systems generate power only when the power grid is available and is connected directly to the power supply. When you are overproducing, on-grid systems send excess power generated to the utility grid. These are the most cost-effective and simplest systems to install. Through offsetting the bills in 3-8 years, such systems will pay for themselves. On-grid systems can either be put in place with net metering or without it. On the other hand, in case of the Off-grid solar systems, when the power grid goes down, off-grid systems allow you to store and save your solar power in batteries for use. It is intended to be completely self-sustaining. The best part about off-grid solar plants is that when the power grid is down, they provide power for critical loads. Currently in India most solar developers suggest installing an on-grid solar system and investing, if necessary, in a backup DG. Nevertheless, the off-grid system might seem an appropriate alternative in the case of remote areas where the grid is unavailable or unreliable.

Top 10 solar rooftop companies in India

RankCompanyCity
1Tata Power Solar SystemsBangalore
2EMMVEEBangalore
3Moser Baer Solar Ltd (MBSL)New Delhi
4Vikram SolarKolkata
5Kotak Urja Pvt LtdBangalore
6Icomm Tele LtdHyderabad
7IndosolarNew Delhi
8Waaree Solar Pvt LtdSurat
9Websol Energy Systems LtdFalta
10Photon Energy Systems LtdHyderabad

Future scope

Solar rooftop in India has seen a rapid growth in terms of Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of almost 88%, in the last five years and estimated to have reached 3399 MW in the year of 2018. However, this stands short in front of India’s vision of generating 40 GW of solar energy by the end of year 2022. Besides, to reach this target, Indian government has decided to go with the CAPEX business model, as the market is extremely dynamic and fast changing. Additionally, India as a solar energy producing country has started to emphasize more on the software-based side of the solar energy. In layman terms it means: There are several start-ups in India which not routing by the conventional way of on-site installing but are currently prioritizing on the AI-Based technologies to grow the solar market in India.

Here are two major examples:

1] The Solar Labs:

The Solar Labs logo
Fig. 5: The Solar Labs [5]

The Solar Labs have a AI-Cloud Based software called the “Design Studio”. It produces the output of sales growth as well as designs a 3D model of the installation site. In addition to that, this software lets you generate a shadow analysis to achieve maximum annual efficiency. Design studio is capable of both, the financial analysis as well as power generation analysis. Also, it is intractable with the other software’s such as CAD and PVSyst.  

2] Enerlytics:

Enerlytics logo
Fig. 6: Enerlytics [6]

Enerlytics have a solar power management software. The main objective of the solar monitoring software is to increase the availability of actionable data for owners of assets, site owners and teams for asset maintenance. This allows them to take informed decisions to scale their company, to achieve strategic goals, to become more efficient, to generate more energy and to increase profitability. Not only does this platform help these companies manage their entire portfolio of sites from a single centralised location, but it also helps maximise the generation of solar energy.

Conclusion

In conclusion, A new thrust to grid connected solar electricity has been given in India, a country that has practised decentralised systems for so long, and solar rooftops have emerged as an achievable goal for residential, commercial and industrial sectors. By 2022, the National Solar Mission is targeting 100 GW of solar power capacity with 40 GW as rooftop solar. Technology and investment must be in the top gear to fulfil these impressive targets. While strong foundations are being built in India through net metering policies and the revision of the incentive package; at the city level, municipalities play a greater role in amending building by-laws to consider solar rooftop structure as a temporary structure so that no new approval is needed to raise building height and DISCOMS’ role in reducing electricity bills by selling at lower rate in proportion to higher wattage achieved from solar installation so as increase home owners’ contribution in energy security for overall power being considered. For linking solar energy targets with the current ‘Make in India’,’ Smart City Mission’ and ‘Digital India’ missions, an outlook is recommended as a promise to develop capabilities and transform the entire power system of the country. The proposed targets for the future should be the development of ‘Grid ready’ off-grid systems for rural and remote areas, and the establishment of ‘Rooftop ready’ by-laws for new grid buildings.

Image References

[1] “Iacharya,” 22 1 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.iacharya.in/site/how-to-become-a-solar-entrepreneur/.
[2] “Silde Player,” 10 2018. [Online]. Available: https://slideplayer.com/slide/16750479/.
[3] “MECpower,” [Online]. Available: https://mecpower.in/solar-model?product=CAPEX-BOOT-solar-model.
[4] “Amplus Solar,” [Online]. Available: https://amplussolar.com/resco-solar.
[5] “The Solar Labs,” [Online]. Available: https://thesolarlabs.com/.
[6] “Enerlytics,” [Online]. Available: https://www.enerlytics.in/.

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