Government's ambitious 40 gigawatt rooftop solar power generation project might not be fulfilled by 2022 because, according to industry experts, electricity distribution companies in several states have been reluctant to support installation and integration of rooftop solar energy because of potential revenue loss for each unit of power generated.
Bengaluru: The growth is rooftop solar power generation remains far too slow for the country to achieve the government’s ambitious target of 40 gigawatt of rooftop capacity by 2022, industry experts said.
The country installed rooftop capacity of only 1,896 MW in 2019, according to data collected by renewable energy consultancy Bridge To India, taking the total rooftop capacity to 5.5 GW.
“From the government’s perspective, the growth is slow; we are clearly way short of the target,” said Sanjeev Aggarwal, CEO of Gurgaon-based solar energy solutions provider Amplus Solar.
According to industry experts, electricity distribution companies in several states have been reluctant to support installation and integration of rooftop solar energy because of potential revenue loss for each unit of power generated.
“There is pushback from discoms in several states but we expect growth to continue,” said Andrew Hines, cofounder of CleanMax Solar. “The fundamentals remain strong—there is demand for renewable power, and the economics work well for commercial and industrial consumers,” he said.
Vinay Rustagi, managing director of Bridge To India, said Maharashtra is the fastest among states in adding rooftop capacity. “Karnataka, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat are also active,” he said. “This market is much more open in terms of spread across different states in comparison to open access solar.”
Developers of rooftop solar are moving towards open access where projects are located elsewhere rather than on the roofs of their customers' premises. This is because scaling is easier via the open access route.
According to Bridge To India, 380 MW was added in 2019. But it expects 1 GW of open access projects to come up in 2020.
“It doesn't surprise me that 2019 was a relatively low year for open access,” said Hines. “After a big 2018 in Karnataka, several states came out with new policies last year, and, as a result, 2020 will see many open access projects come up across several states.”
In 2018, 1,609 MW of open access capacity was added. Industry experts attribute this to the waiver Karnataka offered on transmission and wheeling charges in 2017-18 for open access projects. Since this waiver was valid only till March 2018, many developers took advantage of it.
About 85% of installations have come from the commercial and industrial (C&I) segment. “The residential market in India is very small mainly due to high upfront cost and financing-related reasons,” Rustagi said. “Low consumer awareness and lack of standard products are also key market impediments.”
Source: By Kaavya Chandrasekaran, ET Bureau