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Rooftop Solar: A Viable Option For India’s Energy Security

By Author: Nikhil Mehra
Total Articles: 33

With the prices of solar PV modules dropping considerably in recent years, rooftop PV (RTPV) systems have emerged as a popular and viable option as a sustainable, reliable and cheaper power source.

As per the 2011 Census, India has approx 140 million houses with concrete/asbestos roofs that can be easily fitted with RTPV’s as compared to ground-mounted solar energy projects that frequently face land availability issues.

RTPV’s are best suited for crowded urban areas with dense building clusters. They can be defined as PV systems installed on the rooftops of commercial, residential or industrial buildings for the purpose of solar power generation.

These can be classified as non-grid inter-active systems that are well-suited for the purpose of self-consumption or grid-interactive systems that could either be fed into the utility grid through a controlled feed-in-tariff (FiT) or used for self consumption through net metering.

A recent survey estimates the potential for RTPV in India to be around 20–100 GW. The JNNSM mission documents include both - net metering and sale to utility through FiT – as viable forms of RTPV arrangements for India.

Earlier this month, India’s minister for new and renewable energy, Piyush Goyal, announced the country’s rooftop solar policy was ready to be placed before the union cabinet. This ambitious renewable energy policy lays out yearly targets for reaching 40 GW of rooftop solar capacity.

He further revealed that the country’s solar market had grown by 66% in the last 12 months without any specific rooftop solar policy initiatives. The new rooftop policy is likely to consolidate and detail out already known aspects such as yearly targets, changes in capital subsidy scheme and schemes for low cost financing. States like Gujarat have already adopted the policy of ‘rent-a-roof’, where the roof owner gets paid INR 3 for every unit of energy produced.

The MNRE has identified 60 cities or towns as ‘solar cities’, since 2009 to integrate all the renewable energy projects to saturation level. A solar city aims at 10% reduction in projected demand for conventional energy at the end of five years. Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu is one such solar city.

Not only do RTPV’s offer a cheaper, sustainable solution to India’s growing energy needs, they are a tried-and-tested system used in many countries across the globe. Germany and Italy for example have installed the highest cumulative PV capacity of 24.6 and 12.7 GW respectively, with RTPV systems in the commercial and residential segments accounting for 60% in both countries. In Europe out of 50 GW solar PV capacity, over 50% is from RTPV.

In line with Honorable Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi's 175 GW renewable vision, Welspun Renewables is committed to establishing mega renewable capacities across the country.

Solar energy projects india are likely to become the mainstay of India’s power generation portfolio as it makes its transition to renewable energy.

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