What Are the Big Challenges Faced While Installing Solar Projects in Manufacturing Industries?

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Solar power is rapidly becoming mainstream alternative energy sources in the world. As a business that uses lots of electricity to power equipment and interior and exterior lights, the best way to control the costs is to find alternative energy sources, like solar energy. Today many business owners are looking at it as an affordable and reliable source of energy for their business.

Reduced electricity bills, Reduced carbon emission, Increased value of energy-efficiency, Easier monitoring of your ROI are some of the advantages that industrial companies can get by going for a solar PV installation.

Many industrial business owners have already installed solar energy and are enjoying the benefits of free energy from the sun. There are few challenges installing solar projects in industries. However these challenges can be overcome by designing creative engineering solutions, or structuring financing and tax incentives.

Let us read what the industry experts have to say on big challenges faced while installing solar projects in Manufacturing Industries?

Like millions of other textile manufacturers in Ahmedabad, Hemangbhai Patel was supposed to benefit from India’s decision to open its economy to foreign trade and investment in the 1990s. for a time, he did. As western brands boosted purchases from Indian factories and outsourced apparel making jobs to low-skilled workers in Asian countries, Patel’s business nearly doubled in 2001. Then foreign competition from places like Bangladesh, Pakistan, and China intensified. Laser engraving and cutting machines replaced manual sewing machines. “I have a fight in front of me trying to find orders”, he would lament as high electricity tariffs further impinged upon his meager profits and increased his cost of production. Today he is faced with a Hobson’s choice –

whether to invest his scarce resources in the installation of a rooftop solar system and improve his finances in the long run or sustain his ailing enterprise by purchasing new machines.

The Government of India has set a target of installing 100 GW of solar capacity in the country by 2022. Of this, 40 GW is expected to be achieved through deployment of distributed solar projects. As of December 2020, the country’s operational rooftop solar capacity is estimated to have reached merely 6,792 MW, with the commercial and industrial sector accounting for 4,842 MW of these installations.

Exhibit: Segment wise installed rooftop solar capacity (MW) in India, December 2020

(Source: Bridge to India)

Despite government’s push for decarbonizing India’s energy systems and rooftop solar becoming an attractive commercial proposition in most states due to lower equipment costs and

soaring grid tariffs, its uptake has not gathered the desired momentum. This can largely be attributed to policy and regulatory uncertainty, implementation challenges, and concerns surrounding safety and performance of solar installations. Low barriers for market entry have resulted in the proliferation of a large number of engineering, procurement and construction players and solar entrepreneurs who compete on the cost of project instead of long-term system

performance and levelized cost of energy. Within the manufacturing sector, market expansion does not extend to the micro, small, and medium enterprises due to their perceived lack of credit worthiness. Apprehensions regarding their ability to service debt under CAPEX model which requires high upfront capital investment or honor long-term power purchase agreements under RESCO model make financial institutions averse to lending for rooftop solar projects.

Shreyans Jain, Climate Finance Analyst, Climate Policy Initiative

With the ‘net-zero’ debate gaining traction over the last few months, the Indian industry has seen rising interest in emission reduction targets. Large industrial players like Reliance, ITC, Mahindra, and Dalmia Cement have announced net-zero targets in recent years. Solar power is a promising route for industries to decarbonise their electricity consumption, a key emissions source.

While rooftop solar options are popular, these are constrained by onsite space availability. Industries have been turning to open access to deliver a higher share of green power. Under the open access mechanism, a consumer can directly purchase power from off site renewable energy plants through existing utility transmission systems. As per December 2020 estimates, solar open access stood at 4 GW with industrial rooftop solar at 3.5 GW. However, solar contributes only a minor share of industrial power consumption which is dominated by state utilities and captive coal plants.

Regulatory and operational challenges have stymied growth. Frequently changing policies and a plethora of additional charges levied on industrial customers are the most significant challenges for open access and rooftop solar plants. Many states have scaled back incentives for the sector under pressure from utilities, which view industrial customers as highly profitable. These include energy banking and net metering policies, which are crucial for the operational and financial viability of such installations

Shreyas Garg, Consultant, CEEW-CEF

Manufacturing industries usually have metal sheds which have some added challenges from concrete roof installation. The major challenges faced during installation are listed below.

I&C phase

● The roof access is a very big challenge during the installation of solar plants on a manufacturing roof since they do not have any amenities for roof access.

● There are few specific safety concerns related to man and materials collapsing from the roof. The lifelines are not provided which can prove fatal if the workers slip or are not able to balance themselves on the roof.

● Due to significant space constraints, material movement becomes a challenge during loading and unloading of material. This also increases the percentage of micro-cracks due to moving the modules from ground to roof.

● If there are concrete floors or lack in space, digging activities for earth pits may become challenging

● Due to unavailability of space, proper storage of spares is sometimes a challenge. Therefore, materials are available in less quantity which significantly decreases the speed of installation

● At the time of commissioning, the shut down of the plant sometimes becomes a minor challenge since manufacturing is a 24 hour activity in the majority of manufacturing units.

Atul Kumar Jain, COO and Co-founder, PV Diagnostics

For to read complete story view SolarQuarter Magazine https://solarquarter.com/2021/08/26/solarquarter-india-magazine-june-july-2021/

 

 

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