pv magazine: Why has residential rooftop solar not taken off in a big way in India?
Mayur Misra: There are a multitude of reasons why rooftop solar for the residential sector hasn’t picked up the way it should have ideally. The first being inconsistent subsidy policies over the years for different states. Secondly, as per consumers, DISCOM moves slowly with the Net Metering process. Thirdly, there is still not a smooth financing process for consumers to get the funds arranged for the plant which further discourages the adoption of solar power as not everyone can afford an upfront cost. Another major reason for slow growth in the residential sector is the lack of awareness about the functioning of these plants, costs involved, return on investment (ROI), and more. Furthermore, non-promotion of success also hinders growth, especially in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.
In metro cities, smaller rooftops or shared rooftops as in residential buildings are a challenge? How can this challenge be overcome?
The wattage capacity of modules has improved significantly over the years. While 375Wp was the largest capacity of modules until 2019, one can get 550Wp modules in the market currently.
EPC companies with an advanced engineering and designing team can work out a raised structure to get away with the shadow issues. These structures also create an opportunity for owners to use the area underneath. In the future, modules shall also be prominent in the façade of the buildings.
What’s been the trend in component selection for residential rooftop solar?
Residential owners are now giving preference to monocrystalline modules for better generation and efficiency. They are willing to spend an extra 5-10% for a better generation, which was not very common two years ago.
Technology has significantly advanced over the last two years. Modules with wattage as high as 550Wp are available in the market now and people are preferring them considering they need less area for installation. Furthermore, there has been a flurry of inverter brands entering the domestic market. Brands like Sungrow, Hitachi, and Polycab have gained popularity over the last two years, while Delta and ABB continue to have a good market share.
Solar plus battery is a go-to solution for consumers who face a lot of power cut-offs. This ensures battery backup in case there is no power in the grid. This mode is increasingly being adopted in Tier 2 and 3 cities, specifically by commercial and industrial consumers. However, in such an arrangement battery investment will be recurring. So, it is better to go ahead with Lithium-ion batteries over lead-acid ones as lithium-ion batteries have a longer life and are built on better technology.
Solar roofs or solar modules mounted on roofs, how to make the choice?
Solar modules mounted on roofs allow the owner to utilize their existing roof. A solar roof is currently an expensive option as it requires more components, but it can be chosen by premium customers who intend to set up a new roof exclusively for installation or must invest in a raised structure for installation.
What are the financing options available for residential rooftop solar?
Solar financing is still a very complicated procedure in India and isn’t very widely available. Barring a few nationalized banks, no other banks have a dedicated vertical for the solar plant. Often, private banks in the country overlook the ROI aspect of the plant and assess the asset purely based on the creditworthiness of the client.
Net metering policies vary from State to State. What are your views?
While in Haryana net metering facility can be availed by both residential and commercial and industrial (C&I) consumers, it is only valid for residential consumers in Uttar Pradesh. With net metering, the average ROI is between three to four years for consumers. Without net metering, it increases to around five years.
As an established EPC company, we believe that the government should make one central net metering scheme to govern installations across the country. This will also help in post-installation analytics and data management for the government.
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