What Will It Take To Emerge As Leaders In The Rooftop Solar Industry?

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Dr. Anuvrat Joshi, Head-Business Development, Cleantech Solar

Cleantech Solar’s leadership in the rooftop solar industry stands on three fundamental pillars:

1. Customers’ complete trust in our execution capabilities and quality of our systems;

2. Deep access to capital;

3. The size and customer profile of our operating portfolio.

In addition to these core strengths, the ability to deliver rooftop solar projects across eight countries as well as off-site open access solar power within India have also played a key role in our success.

We believe it is these strengths and the trust and support of our customers that have made us the #1 rooftop developer three times in a row since 2017 in the Bridge to India rooftop leadership board.

Mr. Amit Barve, Head- Business Development, Enerparc Energy Pvt Ltd

A rooftop solar project is really a multi-decade relationship between parties: top corporates respect high quality and high integrity RESCO partners who have the technical capability, financial strength and commitment to the relationship to deliver not only a high-performance project but a commitment towards proactive service and problem solving that can stand the test of twenty years or longer. Offering our leadership to the sector by building such relationships is an organic part of the Cleantech Solar DNA and it plays to our strengths.

Today India is one of the fastest growing solar markets worldwide and has surpassed 30GW installation in the last few years also poised to remain leader in the sector in coming years. However against targeted installation of 40GW in rooftop solar by 2022, we have been able to reach only 10% installation target. There are few structural problems for scaling up of rooftop solar market which needs to be addressed to get the sector on high growth path. Rooftop solar market mainly comprises of installations in Commercial and Industrial segment (C&I) and Residential segment.

C&I segment is growing fast, however recently pace has been stifled due to uncertain regulatory environment. Policies especially related to net metering which are very essential, are varying a lot from state to state and few states have been changing rules and regulations frequently which are unfriendly to industry. Secondly residential segment has highest potential however has not picked up due to financial unviability on account of skewed tariff regime with cross subsidization of domestic consumers at the cost of C&I consumers.

To make this sector get back on track and achieve rapid deployment, we need state governments to harmonize policies related to net metering and keep them consistent across all states as well as do not tinker them time and again. Friendliness and consistency in policies would attract investment in this segment which is need of time. Also state DISCOMs who have already adopted to UDAY scheme should rationalize tariffs which can motivate residential customers for adopting solar for captive consumption using net metering support. Third important point that can make a huge difference would be making funding available for residential as well as Industrial customers which can quickly increase offtake.

Mr. Prateek Agrawal, Co-Founder & Director, Solar91 Cleantech Pvt Ltd

To emerge as a leader in the solar industry one should go with good quality of projects otherwise you will not be able to fulfill the maintenance required in low-grade plants. As an EPC, we should focus on the material used and skilled manpower for the execution of the project since this can change the life cycle of the project. EPC companies should work on decent margins otherwise they will not be able to provide after-sales service which is a requirement of the project. EPCs should focus on the BOS used for the project and BOM used in modules. Generally, people talk about module and inverter only and they are not concern about BOS i.e. earthing material, cables, conduits, Walkway cable trays, etc. which is an essential part of the project. It is the job of EPC to educate the end customer regarding the BOS of the project so that a quality project can be delivered.

Support of the government is also required to emerge as a leader in the market in terms of policy (net metering, gross metering) and financing. The government should give a firm policy keeping in mind to promote the installation of solar projects and they should stick to in for 25 years. Frequent changes in policy by the government will lead to distrust which is not good for the growth of the industry.

Support for DISCOM is also required for the implementation of the project as it should be a hassle-free process from the DISCOM end. DISCOM must follow the net metering regulations for the settlement of the power generated from solar power plants so that customers can get the actual benefit. There should not be any hassle in the settlement of energy generated from the solar plant. There should be proper calculation mentioned in the consumption generated by DISCOM, in which they should mention power generated from the solar plant, exported power, and banked units (if any). It will give clarity to the customer regarding their electricity bill and savings from the solar plant.

Mr. Sangram Singh, Director, SunReform Energy Pvt Ltd

According to me the rooftop solar industry is mainly lagging because of not getting proper support from the Electricity department. Many states are not aware of the net metering policy.

Policies are there, but no proper implementation is their on the policies. CFA ( Central finance assistance ) are their, but due to delay it’s getting very hard for a vendor to manage his business. Due to lack of support from Government nodal agencies the solar rooftop is not touching height. Lack of awareness and finance part are the major issues.

According to me Bankers should come up with some loan facility. All schools and institution should be mandate for installation of solar power plants. Talking about commercial sector all commercial buildings should also be given some type of CFA to promote solar rooftop in industrial sectors. But without electricity departments support this mission of making India green will not be possible. Many more issues are there which vendors are facing on ground level. solar rooftop is a one time investment but due to not maintaining proper quality of the system it’s falling down.

Proper guidelines and procedure should be maintained so that one can easily install the solar plant without any hesitation and also metering issues should be given online.

Dr. Sanjay Vashishtha, CEO, Firstgreen Consulting Pvt Ltd

Government of India has a target of 175 GW of renewable’s installation by 2022. Of this target solar installation is planned of the order of 100 GW and government has given rooftop sector target of 40 GW by 2022. As of date by December 2018 India has about 1.44 GW of solar rooftop installation.

As for Deloitte report “ Scaling up rooftop solar in MSME in India” rooftop installation in MSME sector constitutes a significant share on rooftop solar installation and government targets about 40% rooftop solar targets from Commercial and Industrial sectors only.

The electricity cost in C&I consumers is significantly higher and hence while solar has reached a great parity C&I consumers can contribute significantly to achieve government of India’s targets for rooftop solar installations. Considering the fact that government of India is no longer providing subsidy to the C&I, however there is still requirement of at least low cost financing support to this sector.

Currently there are various international line of credit is available through ADB, World Bank and KFW however this line of credit is available through few of the public sector banks such as SBI, PNB and bank of Baroda. Some of the private sector banks should also be made part of this line of credit so that handling of large volume of solar rooftop financing applications can be made possible and many rooftop solar developers get access of this low-cost financing option.

In recent years demand aggregation of solar rooftop capacity has been quite successful by looking at examples in Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra. The demand aggregation will help to create attractive capacity to the Solar project developers and will bring down the overall installation cost.

It is equally important to involve Discom for billing & collection and the solar PPAs need to be made tri party PPAs where Discom has responsibility of the payment collection as a part of their regular billing and collection activities for grid electricity sale. Demand aggregation of solar rooftop projects with RESCO model can become a successful model where the PPAs are triparty PPAs and Discom has the role of billing and payment collection agent on behalf of solar project developer. Industrial estate bodies such as MIDC, GIDC, HSIDC, etc can also become part of the solar rooftop installation and help in billing and payment collection of payments from C&I consumers within their industrial clusters. Government should also create a partial risk guarantee fund which will help to fund solar rooftop projects to the rooftop solar developers.

Mr. Ishan Chaturvedi, Co Founder, Vareyn Solar Pvt. Ltd

The Rooftop Solar Energy Industry needs a strong knowledge base on traditional installation techniques and technologies, also bold decisions to advocate newer tested technologies and strong engineering base. There is a necessity to develop the entire value chain ecosystem to become competitive and achieve sustainable growth.

The Solar Energy Industry is ever changing, with the advent of newer Panel Manufacturing Technologies and Solar Panel Material for example, Organic Cells, Perovskite Cells, etc. there is going to be a change in the landscape of Rooftop Installations. There is a good chance of new leaders coming up in the market with new offerings which are cost effective and far more sustainable than traditional technologies, furthermore there are newer installation techniques which are saving Balance of System costs and making Solar Rooftop Installations reach places where it was considered too expensive until now.

Almost two year back, Vareyn Solar took up a challenging project of rooftop solar at Indira IVF Hospital, Udaipur. The requirement was for a high superstructure of 20 feet height and a shed construction of 32 feet height. We advocated for 5 bus bar half cell panels, the material choice was a mix of traditional and new technology. The project was completed with our in-house engineering, design and execution team, using a few external structural auditors. We were able to create value for the entire roof real-estate to the client by using less than 70sq.ft. – 80sq.ft. per kWp resulting in a 100kWp Plant.

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