Rooftop PV – A revolution brewing in India?

After being in the shadows of large ground mounted systems during the first 3 years of the JNNSM, rooftop PV has started capturing the attention of policy makers across the country. With the announcement of Generation Based Incentives(GBI) by Tamil Nadu for residential rooftop PV systems, the real “mainstreaming”of PV is happening. It is not going to be an easy task, as witnessed by the scrapping of the Solar rooftop PV policy by the Delhi Government earlier this year, but the fundamental drivers are strong for the growth of rooftop PV in India. A recent article by UK based PV Insider, titled “India’s upcoming PV Rooftop Revolution”, examines some of the drivers for this growth. The article analyses KPMG’s report “Rising Sun – 2012″(download the report here), which estimates rooftop PV installation of 4 GW by 2017.  I also had shared my views on the topic to PV Insider, which is mentioned in the article as below.““Regarding the potential mentioned by KPMG, we feel that 4GW by 2017 is very much feasible,” declares Madhavan Nampoothiri, founder and director of RESolve. “In fact, our estimates show that the potential is significantly higher. 
“However, the actual adoption could be only a small percentage of the potential, due to different challenges.” Some of these challenges are fairly obvious, such as the upfront investment required, particularly for users that have already invested in diesel generators. And more could be done within the regulatory framework to foster rooftop PV. A dedicated feed-in tariff for rooftop PV would clearly be helpful, but Nampoothiri cautions that measures would need to be taken to prevent abuse, which has already led the Government of Delhi to scrap a rooftop scheme. 
Further challenges include the fact that although India has many rooftops, a large number are probably unsuitable for PV, or at least not without significant refurbishment. 
Potential issues
There are also potential issues around technology selection, occupational safety, mounting arrangements, system performance, single-phase generation limitations and the quality of electricity generated.
Nevertheless, says Christopher Sunsong, an analyst with NPD Solarbuzz: “Up until this point the rooftop market has really been the underdeveloped sector of the market. Much of the policy has been based on large ground-mounted utility-scale projects. 
“But a lot of policy makers are starting to catch on to the fact that rooftops may deliver much greater benefits. It will reduce a lot of their transmission losses. The grid in India is not in top shape. Also you do not have to build big, expensive transmission facilities.” As a result, he adds: “In the upcoming phase of the National Solar Mission I think you are going to see a much greater emphasis on that. You’re already starting to see that at state level. I would expect to see a big increase as soon as 2013.”
The full article can be viewed here.
While on the subject, I would like to invite you to read a conversation I had with Shaji John, Head of Solar Initiatives at L&T. The conversation which we had about 1.5 years back and originally published in Energy Alternatives India(EAI), provides the details about L&T’s 400 kWp rooftop system. I understand that the system has since been expanded and has now touched 1 MWp capacity. The article can be found here.
Before I finish, I would appreciate your views on the growth of rooftop  PV in India, especially the challenges and what steps can be taken by the stakeholders to overcome those challenges. Please share your views in the comments section below. Look forward to hearing from you.

2 thoughts on “Rooftop PV – A revolution brewing in India?”

  1. nice to know that finally there is a possibility of rooftop power system taking off in india. Rooftop Solar Thermal is a winner all these days, thanks to the immediate benefit in power saving and initial investment also not heavy for middle class also, as pay back period is very short for a family of 4 adults and 2 children, using Electric Geyser earlier.
    Solar Power on the other hand, needs much higher investment, mainly on Deep Cycle Batteries etc. NEED FOR THIS CAN BE Eliminated, if On-grid solar with Bi-directional power meters are allowed. This way solar power generated during day thro inverter, gets loaded into Grid and meter would run in reverse giving customer, the credit immediately and when power is drawn at night, meter moves forward and at the end of the month, customer pays net energy charges. NO NEED FOR EXPENSIVE DEEP CYCLE BATTERIES.

  2. Pingback: Rooftop solar PV in India – Gujarat and Kerala show the way | RESolve Energy Consultants

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