More solar panels! Rooftop energy creation goes up in 2018, new players enter market

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New Delhi | September 24, 2018 1:25 AM

China-based module manufacturing behemoth Trina Solar recently launched its rooftop solution product in India.

Rooftop solar: Segment’s getting sunnier

Those who have bemoaned the slow pace of capacity addition in the rooftop solar segment have reason to cheer. As much as 805 MW capacity has been created in this category in the first half of 2018, nearly double the combined deployment in 2015 and 2016. While the current installed capacity of around 2,600 MW is far short of the 40,000-MW target set by the government for 2022, the recent surge has seen many new companies foray into the segment, joining established players such as CleanMax Solar, ReNew Power, Amplus Solar, Hero Future Energies, and Oakridge Energy.

China-based module manufacturing behemoth Trina Solar recently launched its rooftop solution product in India. “Now that we have solidified our position in the utility segment, we are moving into the household and small-to-medium enterprise sector with the launch of Trinahome,” said Yin Rong Fang, president, global sales, Trina Solar. Domestic manufacturer Vikram Solar recently launched the ‘half-cut-cell’ line of solar modules, which also caters to rooftop projects. Rays Power Infra plans to launch around 10 operational stores in the first year of operations, and expand to over 70 stores by 2020, selling retail solar solutions for residential rooftops. As for Azure Power, it recently raised `900 crore in debt financing, money that would be used to fund 200 MW of rooftop projects. Hartek Solar has bagged orders for more than 100 kW rooftop projects within four months of the launch of its plug-and-play rooftop solar kits.

In keeping with the changing outlook, distribution companies are reinforcing efforts to promote rooftop solar. BSES, one of Delhi’s distribution companies, has energised 1,077 rooftop solar connections – with a sanctioned solar load of over 40 MW. The company claims that by the end of the year the number is likely to cross 2,000, with load rising to around 80 MW. Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd (TPDDL), the other discom in Delhi, was recently conferred the ‘Outstanding Green Campaigner — Organisation’ award for promotion of rooftop solar by the Indian Federation of Green Energy, in association with Care Ratings.

The industry is devising new business and financing models to boost rooftop uptake. As pointed out by a recent paper by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, rooftop solar consumers face challenges like higher upfront cost and lack of access to finance, besides a long roof lock-in period of 25 years. The problem is exacerbated by the non-uniform design of rooftops, which necessitates adaptation by the developer on a case-to-case basis.

For implementation of the ‘Grid Connected Rooftop and Small Solar Power Plants Programme’, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy had approved an increase in central financial assistance (CFA) from Rs 600 crore to `5,000 crore, up to FY20. The ministry releases an advance equivalent to 30% of CFA, with the final subsidy being released on completion of the project. About `275 crore was released by the central government as CFA in FY18.

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