Community solar & India- benefits of it in India’s journey on going solar

In pursuit of building a solar industry, India has come a long way from 10-20 MW in 2010 to 73 GW of installed solar capacity in 2023. Setups like utility solar, rooftop and floating solar in India are seeing incredible and consistent progress through Government (Govt.) support, foreign investment, domestic entrepreneurship, geographical and geopolitical opportunities available.

Since more than 60% of the country’s population resides in villages, India has focused on electrifying the rural households. It is important to note that as per India Residential Energy Survey (IRES) 2020, nearly 97% of Indian households are electrified. Therefore, we can surmise the incredible importance rural India poses in green energy transition. In such a scenario, community solar plants using solar PV modules stand to bring sustainable development, illuminating remote villages and urban neighbourhoods alike.

Empowering Rural India

Community solar model can help multiple households utilize solar energy with Vikram solar panels, even without having a rooftop solar plant or having utility solar powering their grids. Developing countries like India can benefit from community solar as it removes the need to have enough space on roof/ground to opt for solar or to bear the initial cost of installing a solar plant on roof. The decentralized nature of community solar allows for the establishment of mini-grids, ensuring that even the most isolated communities can access reliable and clean energy with high quality modules from solar manufacturers in India.

The positive impact on education and healthcare in these areas cannot be overstated. With a stable source of electricity, schools can operate efficiently, while health clinics can refrigerate vaccines, power medical equipment, and offer better life saving services, improving overall healthcare in these regions.

Economic Growth and Job Creation

India’s foray into community solar has not only improved energy access but has also proven to be an economic catalyst. The development and maintenance of solar projects require skilled labour, creating job opportunities and contributing to the country’s economic growth. As these projects proliferate, there is a growing demand for engineers, technicians, and support staff, fostering a vibrant job market. Distributed solar is expected to create seven times more jobs than utility solar and has the potential to generate 2.8 lakh jobs by 2030.

Environmental Stewardship

At a time when environmental sustainability is paramount, community solar projects in India using Vikram solar panels can make huge contributions to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint. Community solar encourages a shift towards sustainable practices at the grassroots level. Thus bringing the common man in the fold to act on climate awareness. A study by CEEW (Council on Energy, Environment, and Water) and BYPL (BSES Yamuna Power Limited) shows that buying power from a community solar PV modules plant can reduce electricity bills by 35% in India. Power Distribution Company BYPL, Delhi Electricity Distribution Company, and CEEW have calculated an immediate need for solar energy in residential sectors, to increase national solar adoption rate. 

Challenges to Overcome

Although the opportunities are immense, there are challenges in realizing the community solar sector. Lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities among stakeholders, lack of technical knowledge to install, operate, and maintain plants, unavailability of revenue management systems are few of the issues that are limiting community solar growth in India. Solving these problems through policy development, enforcement, encouraging and investing money for community solar growth can facilitate progress. 

The Future of Community Solar in India

As India continues its journey towards becoming a global solar power player, the role of community solar in this narrative becomes increasingly crucial. The decentralized and inclusive nature of these projects aligns with the principles of sustainable development, ensuring that the benefits of solar energy reach farthest corners of the country.