City Wide Rooftop Solar Growth in India Needs More Focus

India has successfully surpassed 1 GW milestone for rooftop solar growth, showing near about 113 per cent growth in 2016 over 2015. This is a considerable growth factoring in the lack of industrial environment in India. Although, Central Electricity Authority of India’s (CEA) latest plan to add about 24 GW rooftop solar capacity within 2027 will help in speeding up the installation capacity, executing the operation will need more than just Government backing.

Statistics show that rooftop potential of the country stands up to 1,24,000 MW. And more than 30 per cent of which can be easily covered if only 1.3% of the total household in India is made solar compatible. This news alone should serve as an incentive for Government and private entities to gear up the rooftop installation in cities and rural areas. However, India is still struggling with adopting solar in the major cities.

Although, Government has offered a 30 per cent subsidy for rooftop installation and focused on net-metering (30 of the total 36 states and UTs in India have been identified to have net-metering policies), cities in India are failing to lead the rooftop solar revolution. Cities like Mumbai, Chennai, and even Delhi which had shown promise as becoming a favorable environment for rooftop solar growth, but has failed to continue the progress. And if we consider the set target which is 40 GW by 2022, current 1 GW capacity may fail to convince us of success in reaching the target.

Analyzing City Wise Rooftop Solar Growth Can Highlight The Drawback:

Delhi has an estimated solar potential of 1.25 GW, while the city’s official target is 1 GW by 2020 and 2 GW by 2025, surprisingly the city has only installed 35.9 MW of solar rooftop capacity. And about 3 MW of that capacity is from residential installations.

Similarly, Tamil Nadu, which has Rs 20,000 subsidy in store for domestic consumers, has also been unsuccessful in making progress. State’s rooftop solar target is 350 MW, out of which nearly 2 MW have been installed.

These scenarios clearly illustrate the lag in rooftop solar growth. Current 1 GW of the Indian rooftop solar capacity consists of 377 MW industrial, 263 MW commercial and nearly 260 MW residential installations. This explains that rooftop solar growth is concentrated on large scale utility sector and commercial installations, which is inadvertently keeping the common people from the solar revolution. This is a problem, since the core purpose behind solar revolution is to spread light to the furthest corners of the country.

Surveys and polls show significant public interest in accepting solar. However, lack of awareness of schemes, policies, details on the benefits of solar energy, has been the hurdle in path of spontaneous rooftop solar adoption. Although there are 300 million homes in India, only a meagre percentage of that number has capable roof to hold solar panels successfully. Bringing in nodal agencies to spread awareness and involve common man can work wonders easily. However, current issue of GST taxes on solar modules is something that would require a bit more focus of Government.

Indian solar industry has enjoyed ‘0’ percent tax on excise duty, sales tax, basic and total custom duty till now. However, with GST now marking 5 per cent tax on solar modules, it is evident that solar module manufacturing cost would increase, making domestic modules costlier than foreign modules (already 8-10 per cent costly).

Therefore, as it seems, there are multiple variables at play here that influence rooftop solar growth in India. In order to gain positive results, and reach 40 GW by 2022 target, Government must realign its actions with the vision of making India solar reliant.