Do You Think We Need To Build More Consumer Awareness In Terms Of Economical And Other Benefits Of Rooftop Solar

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Mr. Prerak Thekadi, Dy. General Manager – Techno Commercial, Adani

Rooftop Solar comes with immense financial benefit for the consumer and this benefit further enhance with Government subsidy. As a rule of thumb, typically ROI for rooftop installation
without Government subsidy is achieved as early as 4-5 years and this further decreases if we consider subsidy. Looking at the performance life of solar panels of around 25 years, ROI within
5 year is a great investment instrument. However, there is still lack of awareness among
consumers regarding economic viability and long term benefit of rooftop solar.

Most consumers are concerned about the upfront investment and they prefer paying
monthly bills rather than lump sum investment in solar installation. However they are oblivious of the fact that this investment will not only save their hard earned money for 20 years but also will help contribute to the environment. Hence it is required for Government and Installation agencies to represent the cost benefit analysis of solar installation to consumers in more lucid manner. Further, a lot of financial institutions have already started providing loans with easy EMI options to address the concern of capital expenditure of consumers. With the addition of more and more stakeholders, it is hopeful that it is possible to address the concern in a more effective way. However, there always remains a concern regarding the quality of module and other components, so consumers are required to be aware of quality brands and also verify the credentials of the installer before making any investment.

Mr. Yogish HN, DGM – Business Development, Enerparc Energy Pvt Ltd

Roofs and large swathes of land across the country and world are turning blue, the colour of green energy and solar modules. Customer awareness across the world with regards to solar has grown exponentially over the past decade. Governments across the world have announced policy-support over the past decade that have led to widespread adoption of solar across consumer markets-utility, commercial/industrial and residential. Corporates across the world too, have developed sustainability goals that are derived from reducing wastage, reusing by-products of manufacturing processes and turning to green sources of power to fuel production lines. However, in order to ensure that the momentum of solar adoption in the country is maintained, customer awareness on solar deserves to be examined more closely. For instance, on the one hand, the residential solar market in India is still on its way to a growth spurt, and on the other, the C&I demand for solar has been growing at
a higher rate.

Broadly, the customer in India today looks at solar through a few specific lenses. One, through the lens of sustainability commitments. Each state Discom or industrial player is committed to fulfilling its set Renewable Purchase Obligations, which allows them to turn to solar-both rooftop and open access, in order to meet their energy needs. Another aspect of the sustainability lens is a corporation’s internal sustainability agenda, which is often met through green energy sources. The second lens that solar energy is viewed through is the point of view of savings. Drawing on solar energy can stand to significantly increase a large power consumer’s operational expenses on power.

Although the Indian power consumer is, at large, tuned in closely to the solar market, sensitizing them on the detailed benefits of solar would go far in raising rates of solar adoption.

Mr. Vamsi Gaddam, Joint Managing Director, Visaka industries Ltd.

Rooftop solar in India has made large strides in the last 3 years from witnessing a mere 500MW worth of installations in 2015 to 2000 MWs of installations in 2018. Factors that enabled this industry boom were primarily government incentives, trade shows, entrepreneurs, foreign funds and financial institutions. Though the rate of growth of rooftop solar has been impressive, the growth is yet to peak its potential. This gap in achievement can be attributed to several hindrances like policy uncertainty, unqualified service quality and lack of technological
advancement to cater to off-grid and storage requirements. Today, the Indian consumer has high levels of awareness about solar PV, its advantages and available incentives and environmental consciousness required to adopt solar PV. However, this awareness is still marred by uncertainties and apprehensions, gathered in the due course of interaction with market forces. More than creating awareness, there is a need to address systemic issues
which can create a strong foundation of faith not just Solar but also on its regulatory environment.

Policy uncertainty and ad hocs are some key hindrances plaguing the commercial and
industrial sectors. C&I contributes to 70% of the installations every year. 60% of these
are undertaken in CAPEX model where the cost of capital and resource mobilization is a
tedious exercise for organizations which aim to install solar power covering over 80% of
its consumption. In this scenario, removal of accelerated depreciation benefit, vis-à-vis reduced corporate tax has hit the solar C&I segment badly. Also, abrupt changes in net-metering policy for example in Maharashtra has impacted the customer confidence in the industry. Visaka Industries introduced ATUM Solar Roof for C&I segment which creates higher installable area reducing the payback period at the same time serving as a roof with a life of over 50 years. In commercial buildings like hospitals, the additional real estate is created by constructing an elevated solar roof structure is adding to the ROI and keeping the consumer hooked to solar amidst all the policy debacles.

Residential solar is the only segment which is witnessing unabated growth owing to the
subsidy benefit which drastically lowers the payback period. But this subsidy regime has
been subjected to various changes at national and state levels. Reduction in benchmark
price has impacted the payback period. Policy uncertainty related to mandatory use of
Indian cells has also put many residential projects on hold. Even in this scenario innovation
and advanced products have kept the momentum in the industry unabated. ATUM has
seen a large rise in orders from the residential segment, as it catered to the major pain
points of residential customer namely, utilization of roof area, creation of real estate, fire
and hurricane proof installation.

Innovation in financial instruments is the need of the hour, created to encourage the
adoption of rooftop solar, amongst the already activated customer. Today the technology,
economics of solar is well known and easily available at the click of a mouse. However, the
missing link for a consumer to become a customer of solar is to provide enabling agents,
of which the lack of good financial instruments is the main lacuna. ATUM has tied up with
financial institutions to offer zero cost solar, where the consumer pays his electricity bill
savings from solar to the bank as monthly EMI for 5 years. After 5 years the consumer
owns the plant and saves every month for a lifetime enjoying the benefits of a roof as well
as solar power.

Rooftop solar is set to take off hugely, with over 2.5 GW installations slated to occur every
year. From the experience we have had in the way ATUM solar roof has been received in
the market, we believe the consumer awareness levels are high and the consumer trust
on solar is at its peak. However, it is time for the system, administration and the market
forces to ensure quality, ease of doing business and viable financial instruments to cater to
the consumer who is waiting for the right combination of these to take up his solar power
project.

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