solar-rooftop-systemsIndian electric companies are using the ‘Make in India Week‘ campaign to encourage potential customers to rent out their rooftops to host solar panels.

Last Saturday, the Prime minister of India, Sri Narendra Modi has started the ‘Make in India week’ exhibition in Mumbai to attract huge investments in various sectors. Around 2500 international and 8000 national companies are participating in this campaign.

At present, India produces 5,000 MW of solar power and 18,000 MW of wind power and it is planning to increase its solar energy production to 100,000 MW and wind energy production to 60,000 MW by 2020. The current capacity of rooftop solar panel installations in the country is about 400 MW while the government aims to install a whopping 4.8 GW by the end of this year. Calculations with respect to solar incidence on India convey that 8 square meters of space is necessary to generate 1kW of energy and to make the installed setup economically feasible, it takes 30kW of generated energy, which requires 240 square meters of panel area. By renting the roofs for solar panel installation, the developers would be saved from the cost of purchasing large areas of land for solar farms.

Piyush Goyal, Minister or state with independent charge for power, coal, new and renewable energy, said, “Considering the initiatives taken by the government to enhance its renewable capacity, we estimate that the renewable sector alone will attract investment to the tune of $1 billion in the next 5 years,”. He also added that they are trying for an end-to-end solar manufacturing base in India.

Seeking Australian Expertise

It is known from the recent IEA report that the Australian rooftop solar photovoltaics are the cheapest in the world. According to International Energy Agency, the cost of installing solar PV systems on Australian households is among the lowest in the world.

A roundtable meeting, which was attended by Indian delegation consisting of officials of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Ministry of Coal as well as officials Coal India and other large renewable companies, was held. From the Australian side, it was attended by senior faculty of the UNSW and senior officials from the educational institutions, R&D organisations like CSIRO and corporates.

Power Minister, Goyal said that there is a need for technology transfer at ‘affordable rates’ for efficient expansion of renewable energy sector in India. The technology transfer should be through strong educational and research collaboration between Australian (UNSW) and Indian organisations like National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE).

He said that the Australian expertise in scheduling and forecasting solar generation to enable grid integration would be ‘welcomed by Indian companies’. “India can use Australian expertise in rooftop solar as almost a third of Australian homes in some states are using rooftop solar,” Goyal said while speaking at a roundtable on ‘Renewable Energy Challenges for Grid Integration’ at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Tarun Kapoor, New and Renewable Energy Joint Secretary, said, “India was running the world’s largest renewable energy programme and was looking for technological expertise, operating experience and investments,”. He further added that by March 2016 itself, India would bid out more than 18 GW of solar capacity thus, helping it move rapidly towards the aim of setting up 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022.

Though India gets 300 days of abundant insolation every year, it is only since last year the solar industry started to pick up the wind – the superabundance of solar photovoltaic cells at descending prices from the Chinese market, lower commodity prices, saturated markets in Europe and the US and lower capital costs. Record low tariffs and huge subsidies  to the renewable sector from the government at the right time are also providing enough boosting to the solar industry. A recent decision of Indian Cabinet  to sanction Rs. 5,000 crore for 30% capital subsidy on rooftop installations, companies believe, would be a boost to the rooftop sector.

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To tap this great potential, many foreign companies along with domestic ones are showing great interest in the sector. Increased FDIs are one big proof. Renewable energy companies have set out searching for potential roofs – roofs of commercial complexes, malls, industrial facilities, gated communities and even hospitals – to host solar panels. Government buildings and offices are also present in their list. Delhi, the capital of India, is already leading the country in the rooftop project by providing generation based incentive for household rooftop solar power.

The Financial Express noted, “It is hardly a coincidence then that the country installed roughly the same amount of solar power in FY2016 that it had done in the previous three years taken together”. Hope the rent-a-roof concept helps India reach 100GW solar power by 2022.

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