India’s C&I Rooftop Solar Segment To Add 1,875 MW Capacity in 2021: Report

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  • The rate of rooftop solar capacity addition by commercial and industrial (C&I) consumers in India is expected to accelerate this year
  • Other factors expected to boost uptake of rooftop solar by C&I consumers are more accessible financing options and corporates wanting to switch to 100 per cent

The commercial and industrial (C&I) segment in India is expected to add 1,875 megawatt (MW) of new capacity in 2021, an increase of 47 per cent compared to the previous year as per a report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and JMK Research. The rate of rooftop solar capacity addition by commercial and industrial (C&I) consumers in India is expected to accelerate this year, as new and innovative solar technology solutions provide opportunities for businesses to save on electricity costs and contribute to corporate renewable energy targets.

“Adoption of onsite solar solutions is the low-hanging fruit for consumers that want to optimise their electricity costs or increase their procurement of renewable power,” says Vibhuti Garg, Energy Economist and Lead India at IEEFA.The pandemic has increased the price sensitivity of C&I consumers who already pay higher tariffs to cross-subsidise agricultural and residential consumers. Saving on electricity costs is absolutely critical for them.

Other factors expected to boost uptake of rooftop solar by C&I consumers are more accessible financing options and corporates wanting to switch to 100 per cent renewable energy to meet their RE100 commitments.

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The report highlights new technological developments being explored in the Indian C&I rooftop/onsite solar space like larger-sized, wafer-based modules which allow higher power output of more than 500 kilowatts peak (kWp); bifacial modules which produce power from both sides of the panel; battery storage; integration of solar PV with electric vehicle (EV) charging stations; and building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).

Lead author Jyoti Gulia, founder of JMK Research says the report provides case studies of projects in India that have applied these emerging technologies.

The report adds that when higher-wattage modules are used for onsite solar installations in India, plant generation increases by one per cent while balance of system (BOS) costs – everything in the solar system except the modules – reduce by one per cent These benefits are even greater for sites with space constraints.

Huge opportunity for rooftop solar+Battery Energy Storage Systems

With battery prices expected to fall dramatically to US$100/kWh by 2023, solar+battery storage rooftop projects are also likely to pick up pace. It adds that there is a a huge opportunity for rooftop solar+Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) to replace diesel gensets, which represent 90 gigawatts (GW) of aggregate capacity in behind-the-meter applications in India.

IEEFA’s distributed energy resources (DER) specialist Dr Gabrielle Kuiper says other nascent onsite technological models likely to be explored by developers in India include rooftop solar integrated with electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and the adoption of building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).

Kuiper adds, “Government policy initiatives are already boosting the adoption of EVs. Combining rooftop solar with storage and EVs is a cost effective solution. And BIPV presents an attractive long-term opportunity for corporates that are planning to set up new commercial buildings and offices in India.”

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