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Solar Plus Storage Is Particularly Beneficial For Customers Who Face High Grid Outages And Rely Heavily On Diesel Generators: Ritu Lal – Senior VP & Head – Institutional Relations, Amplus Solar

RITU LAL- Senior VP & Head - Institutional Relations, Amplus Solar

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In an insightful interview with SolarQuarter India magazine, Ms. Ritu Lal – Senior VP & Head – Institutional Relations, Amplus Solar told us about how the rooftop segment has shaped up in 2021. She spoke about the focus on solar+storgae at their company and also gave us insights on  India’s promotion of renewable energy procurement through open access which will resolve the current issues being faced by the industry.

How have things shaped up for the rooftop segment in India in the year 2021? What trends are we likely to see this year?

In terms of capacity addition, 2021 has been an excellent year for rooftop solar in India. 1.3GW capacity was added during the Jan-Sep 2021 period, with residential installations highest for the second quarter in a row. The demand from the C&I segment remains very strong. We expect the demand trend to continue to rise this year as well, across all consumer categories. Corporates have set up ambitious net-zero targets. Additionally, the pandemic has pushed them to find ways to cut down on their operational expenses, making rooftop and distributed solar an ideal solution. The residential adoption of solar is also expected to rise with individuals trying to cut down their carbon footprint and reduce their electricity bills.

There are several challenges too, coming from factors such as policy restrictions, supply chain disruptions, capacity constraints owing to ALMM, as well as the impact from the cost increase post-BCD. We hope that we can find lasting solutions to address some of these issues, in order to ensure that the overall growth in this sector is not impacted.

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 How has the focus on solar + storage been at your company?

At Amplus, we have already executed a few projects in energy storage for our clients and we are working towards commissioning more such projects in the future. Solar plus storage is particularly beneficial for customers who face high grid outages and rely heavily on Diesel Generators. Apart from being commercially viable, this also helps them cut down on diesel emissions. As the cost of storage continues to reduce, we expect to see higher adoption of solar-storage solutions. Higher adoption will also help bring storage costs down further, as economies of scale kick in. We believe that storage can be a real game-changer for the renewables sector in the next 3-5 years.

 How will India’s promotion of renewable energy procurement through open access resolve the current issues being faced by the industry?

Renewable energy procurement through Open Access is crucial to address the net-zero targets of large industrial customers efficiently. Policy support from the government will play a massive role in the growth of this segment. The recent policy facilitating ISTS for Open Access is a step in this direction, but this needs to be backed by other measures at the state level, including rationalizing charges for wheeling and losses, along with banking.

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 How has your rooftop solar segment performed overall in the ongoing pandemic scenario? What have been some key takeaways from the situation?

Despite the pandemic, Amplus has witnessed high demand from the rooftop solar segment and has experienced a very strong year in 2021. We also expect accelerated growth in 2022.

The biggest takeaway, in terms of sustainability goals, post the pandemic, is the universal acknowledgment of the need to build back better. That we are now in the midst of a state of climate emergency is no longer a matter of debate. Globally as well as locally – be it governments, industry, or individuals, this realization is helping accelerate the growth of renewables. 

What have been the factors — policy, regulatory, technical, financial — that have contributed to the solar growth in India?

India has been committed to its clean energy transition and has already undertaken various large-scale sustainable power projects in 2021, promoting renewable energy growth.

The surge in solar rooftop adoption is directly proportional to favorable policies, and thus the growth has been witnessed more in some states than others. One cannot overstate the importance of policy in shaping the future of the sector. On the technical front, there is a shift toward higher capacity modules, while string inverters have found wider use in utility projects as well.

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There still is an issue with financing, especially for the rooftop sector. Though companies like Amplus have do not face major challenges, access to high-quality financing for rooftop solar is required on priority.  

Other policy developments, such as the sale of RE via the energy exchanges, proposals facilitating Open Access, proposed amendments to the Electricity Act, etc will continue to lead to solid growth for the solar sector.

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