Commercial, industrial rooftop solar segment set to increase, become more cost-effective

Our Bureau Hyderabad | Updated on July 28, 2021

C&I segment expected to add 1,875 MW of new capacity in 2021: IEEFA-JMK Research report

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.

According to a new report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and JMK Research, the C&I segment, which represents about three-quarters of India’s rooftop solar market, is expected to add 1,875 megawatts (MW) of new capacity in 2021, an in

crease of 47 per cent compared to the previous year when the Covid-19 pandemic slowed installation.

Should you go for rooftop solar power?

“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.

“Solar module and battery prices have already fallen, and with the government’s new production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme to boost domestic solar manufacturing, solar technology prices are expected to drop even further.”

The goofed-up story of rooftop solar

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.

Battery prices set to drop

The solar space is witness to adoption of larger-sized, wafer-based modules that allow higher power output of more than 500 kilowatts peak (kWp); bifacial modules that produce power from both sides of the panel; battery storage; integration of solar PV with electric vehicle charging stations; and building integrated photovoltaics.

Lead author Jyoti Gulia, founder of JMK Research, says, “Some of these solutions, such as higher-wattage modules and bifacial modules, offer considerable value-addition in terms of energy generation.”

“As identified in the report’s case studies, bifacial modules increase total energy generation by 4-5 per cent compared with a project equipped with monofacial modules, and so reduce the levelised cost of energy (LCOE),” says Gulia.

EV adoption

With battery prices expected to fall dramatically to $100/kWh by 2023, solar+battery storage rooftop projects are also likely to pick up pace.

There is also 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 specialist Dr Gabrielle Kuiper says “Government policy initiatives are already boosting the adoption of EVs. Combining rooftop solar with storage and EVs is a cost-effective solution.”

“And building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) presents an attractive long-term opportunity for corporates that are planning to set up new commercial buildings and offices in India.”

Published on July 28, 2021

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