Industry welcomes government decision to simplify rooftop solar installation

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Strong points :

  • The latest changes to rooftop solar rules would have been considered groundbreaking, but for the challenges they face in the field.
  • We speak with several industry experts about consumer-focused changes and what is needed to make it work.

Last Friday’s (January 21) announcement by the Department of Energy on guidelines and implementation of rooftop solar was well received by the industry. While this is by no means unexpected, given how the new guidelines seek to give more buyer discretion and push for faster response from operating and regulatory agencies, it remains to be seen. how quickly the situation on the ground is changing.

Subrahmanyam Pulipaka, CEO of National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI), said this on behalf of NSEFI, adding that NSEFI would also lobby to publicize the changes. “NSEFI welcomes this decision by the central government. This brings us one step closer to moving towards market-driven demand versus government-driven demand. We must now focus on the proliferation of quality residential roof systems in India. The potential of residential rooftops is very high in India and now is the time to convert this potential into installed capacity. At NSEFI, we will soon be launching an initiative to educate consumers across the country to accelerate the adoption of residential rooftop solar.”

Petronas-owned and Gurugram-based Amplus Solar, which has been one of the most aggressive players in the C&I market and lately in the rooftop solar market for the residential segment, was also full of hope, although she insisted on the need to maintain quality standards. Ritu Lal (Senior VP & Head – Institutional Relations) says, “The proposed simplification of the Rooftop Solar installation is a welcome initiative. From faster adoption to faster and smoother implementation, the program, if well supported by DISCOMS, will provide a much-needed boost to homeowner adoption of solar in India. The availability of reliable, high-quality components, especially modules and inverters, will be essential to ensure that the system achieves its goals. Customers can choose trusted brands like Amplus solar to take full advantage of solar power throughout its 25-year lifespan.

Rooftop Guideline Responses

From left to right, Shreyas Gowda, Subrahmanyam Pulipaka, Ritu Lal

It was a similar refrain from Shreyas Gowda, vice president (sales and product) of Mumbai-based Oorjan Cleantech, who added that “to drive adoption of solar energy by residential consumers, it is essential to make the whole process of purchase of equipment, system installation and grid synchronization, easy and discretionary for the consumer.The directive issued today by the Ministry of Energy and New Renewable Energy is a welcome step in this direction. it is implemented by the DISCOMs and other implementing nodal agencies in accordance with the guidelines, it would help to organically develop the residential rooftop solar sector.

It’s interesting that the two developers chose to add a caveat to their welcome to the changes, in the form of “if the discoms implement..”

Indeed, we also agree that any success in the failure of these changes will revolve around the mechanism or methods that the government evolves to induce, motivate or drive discoms to show the same level of support and enthusiasm for the rooftops solar in the residential category like the Ministries of Power and the MNRE themselves.

The short-term successes of discoms have been well documented, in the form of supposed quality consumers turning into prosumers with solar. However, the long-term benefits, whether in the form of additional renewable capacity, those numbers counting towards discom RPO numbers, or the critical degree of self-sufficiency for large cities like Delhi where almost none exist currently cannot be overstated. And of course the fact that a resumption of rooftop solar installations is absolutely essential for the country to reach its own renewable energy targets, where the realization of rooftop solar has only reached barely 15% of the figures targeted so far.

Rooftop Solar is also a valuable tool in meeting demand for domestically produced solar equipment, although it is slightly higher than imports, due to relatively lower price elasticity. Finally, there is of course the immense potential for jobs, whether skilled or unskilled, that a large and thriving rooftop solar market can support, as seen in many other strong markets like the States USA and Australia. Estimates suggest a 5-fold advantage in rooftop solar employment, for each MW of installations, over utility-scale solar.

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