Everything You Wanted To Know About India’s Biggest Rooftop Solar Scheme

Highlights :

As one of the world’s largest residential rooftop solar initiatives, the PM Surya Ghar Scheme promises the moon, and more. It’s time you know everything about how the scheme aims to achieve its ambitious numbers.

To Get Answers to your queries on rooftop solar, visit Solarfaqs.in


Everything You Wanted To Know About India’s Biggest Rooftop Solar Scheme

Made For, Of and By India

One of the biggest aspects of the PM Surya Ghar Scheme is the focus on mass markets, by limiting subsidies to systems upto 3kW in size. It is also meant to be a catalyst for India’s domestic manufacturing base for solar equipment, which has struggled to counter Chinese imports until now. The scheme forbids the use of Chinese modules, with its DCR (Domestic Content Requirement). That, along with the 100% Indian ALMM list (Approved List of Module Manufacturers) that lists down the manufacturers whose modules can be used, ensures a bonus for Indian makers.

Finally, there is the small matter of the tremendous boost to local entrepreneurship and jobs, as the retail market invariably creates more jobs through rooftop solar.  From technicians to installers to new entrepreneurs and smaller equipment suppliers for the Balance of System (BOS), the scheme, by adding 5-6 GW of rooftop residential solar each year, could potentially provide a stimulus worth 50,000 jobs and Rs 40,000 crore of economic activity each year from here till 2028 or beyond.

But like all government schemes, issues remain, both for industry and the end consumer.

The Large Crowding Out The Small?

From the process of getting BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) inspections that will eventually lead to ALMM inclusion, to the matter of Bank Guarantees to be enlisted as an installer, smaller players claim the system favours larger firms. Currently, just over 50% of India’s total module manufacturing capacity is registered under ALMM. A key reason is the red-tapism around the process, which can delay smaller manufacturers, many claim.

Then there is the matter of bank guarantees demanded by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) for getting empanelled with the National Rooftop Solar Portal. A developer told Saur Energy that earlier to tie up with a single discom the rate was Rs 2.5 lakh per discom but now the rates have been hiked which goes upto Rs 1 crore for national players based on the capacities added. Several developers and solar energy associations have now objected to the hefty bank guarantees for solar developers who wanted to be a part of the mission and expand the penetration of rooftop solar in India which already had a slow success rate.

The Renewable Energy Association of Rajasthan states that the requirement for vendors to furnish a Bank Guarantee (BG) of Rs. 15,00,000/- if they exceed the 200 KW milestone translates to Rs. 7500/- per KW. This, they claim is built on an erroneous understanding of the business where margins are much lower, especially at the MNRE-approved price.

Solar cell makers:  In India, there are a select few players like Tatas, Jupiter, Adani, Websol, Premier and Waaree who are into solar cell manufacturing as well with the largest share taken by the West Bengal-based firm Jupiter (especially in DCR segment). While new capacities come up, existing module players face a tough time sourcing cells to meet DCR requirements. Worse, the best quality modules today that use TOPcon ( (glass-glass) technology face an even bigger shortage of cells, as TOPcon involves investing in reconfiguring production lines significantly.

India will need to ramp up TOPcon capacity to 30 GW PV modules per year, a number we are well short of. The solar cell production capacity of around 6.5 GW has only about 1.5 GW where n-TOPCon cells are produced.

Expansion Mode: Another reason why smaller module makers feel threatened is the need for massive expansion, that is already under way. Firms like Rayzon Solar with a module manufacturing capacity of 1.5 GW aim to increase production capacity to upto 4 GW to ensure viable market fit.

Darshil Gondaliya, Director, Better Energies

Darshil Gondaliya

Darshil Gondaliya, Director, Better Energies (the EPC arm of Rayzon Solar) says “The scheme is likely to boost the domestic manufacturing of solar modules in India. You can now see that several Indian module manufacturing companies have gone into expansion mode. Although the current manufacturing capacities of DCR modules in India are not as per the scale of demand anticipated under the PM Surya Ghar scheme but soon the expansion of local solar cell and module manufacturing can cater to the rise in demand for residential rooftop solar”.

Similarly, Waaree, one of the largest players in Indian module manufacturing has planned to increase its module manufacturing from 12 GW to 20 GW by the end of this year. Several other companies have also planned to add new lines of higher technologies like TOPCon to cater to the rise in new demand. Adani Solar, one of the largest players recently launched DCR modules in TOPCon category too besides mono-PERC DCR modules.

Smaller players might be snapped up, the way Waaree Group recently acquired IndoSolar to start increasing its solar cell production capacity and start production of DCR solar cells in the next few months.

Rajan Munjal, Channel Head at Sungrow India remarks that the scheme is likely to support expansion plans for inverter players as well.

Unethical practices: The risk of some manufacturers passing off non-DCR cells as DCR has also meant stricter compliance and certification processes that track the cell life cycle, but increase the compliance burden on smaller players disproportionately.

The Consumer Side Story- Smaller, faster, And Cheaper

Laxmi Narayan is a retired official based in Bhopal. Worried by the growing electricity bills for his home, Narayan in 2020 decided to install a 6 Kw of rooftop solar to counter the hefty monthly bills. To his surprise, his decision to opt for green energy turned out even better than he had hoped for.

He said that after switching to rooftop solar, his monthly power bills were reduced drastically. This pro-environment step taken by him also bolstered the confidence of his neighbours, many of whom soon opted for a clean energy source to power their households.

“It was around 2020 when I decided to opt for rooftop solar. Based on my power requirements I decided to opt for rooftop solar of 6 Kw capacity. I soon realized the power of rooftop solar when I was able to reduce the monthly power bills by around 90%. The success also encouraged several other neighbouring households to go for solar,” Narayan told Saur Energy.

Despite large targets for the residential rooftop segment, India’s journey towards this segment had not been overwhelming. MNRE data claimed that out of India’s 81 GW of solar capacities, rooftop solar accounts for only around 12 GW. This, when the target was 40 GW by 2022.

However, with the ambitious target of 1 crore households under the newly launched PM Surya Ghar Muft Bijli Yojana, the government seems keen to fill the yawning gap with increased subsidies and better implementation.

Tackling the Awareness Challenge

Lack of awareness among consumers has always been an issue, with concerns over upfront cost, transfer of subsidies, financing, lack of understanding of the technicalities till now tripping up progress on rooftop solar.

Subsidy Structure Under PM Surya Ghar

Subsidy Structure Under PM Surya Ghar

Source: National Rooftop Portal

Solar vendors in Rajasthan recently shared on social media that several prospective rooftop solar consumers filled out the online forms on the National Rooftop Solar anticipating no payment from their side due to talks of higher subsidies. During follow-ups, several of these consumers often back out when they are informed about the upfront cost. Some vendors advocated levying registration fees at the application state to weed out the non-serious customers.

Nahar explained one of the common concerns among consumers is related to the viability of using ACs and other high-power consuming appliances like motors. Nahar said, “In the on-grid rooftop solar systems, the solar system is seamlessly integrated with the grid and there is no issue in running the high power consuming appliances as any shortfall of power from solar could be compensated by the grid power synchronously.

Consumers need to keep in mind that their on-grid solar system is simply providing them with an additional self-generated electricity supply that will finally reduce their overall bill, not run every appliance in the house at all times.

Rooftop connections & paper works

Several solar vendors (EPC companies) Saur Energy talked to explained that after the advent of the National Rooftop Portal, the paperwork has been reduced due to digitization. The draft norms released by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) on April 15 also talked about integrating more discoms and making several of their offline permissions digital for faster approvals. It also talked about integrating the disbursement of state subsidies through the portal.

Nikhil Nahar, Co-Founder, SolarSquare

Nikhil Nahar

In the last two years, the Indian EPC players said that the portal aided in simplifying the processes, expediting approvals, and faster disbursement of subsidies to solar consumers.

Nikhil Nahar, Co-Founder of SolarSquare, a company dedicated to residential rooftop solar said that with the portal coming into the picture the subsidies are now disbursed within 30-45 days which earlier used to take longer durations.

Explaining the process from registration to installation to subsidy disbursal, Nahar told Saur Energy, “The process starts from the consumer making an application on the central portal. The MNRE has now simplified the paperwork. Now, only the electricity bill and KYC documents are enough for solarizing the homes. With the central portal getting integrated with the discom’s portals across India, the online applications trigger several actions at different levels like the discoms approving the feasibility surveys virtually for capacities up to 10 kW, documentation facilitation of mutual agreement of the total cost between the vendor and the consumer, installation process completion notifications, testing of net-meters, final approvals from the local discom to commission the rooftop solar projects and tracking of subsidy status via the portal until disbursal.”

Nahar claims that going with an experienced and reputed solar vendor ensures that most of the paperwork and technical details including coordination with the local discoms are taken care of, simplifying the whole process of rooftop solar installation for the consumers.

In most Indian states, the local norms do not allow rooftop solar installations beyond the sanctioned load of the electricity meter of the household. For example, in Uttar Pradesh, if a residential household has a 3 Kw load limit, they are allowed to install rooftop solar only upto 3 Kw. This can be a dampener for some, as solar generation will happen only during 6-8 hours, and a higher capacity would have supported more use of electrical appliances at a power cost.

Older households that seek higher sanctioned capacity to accommodate more rooftop solar will find this process alone can take around one month. However, states like Gujarat, with the highest rooftop solar connections in India allow residential consumers to install such systems upto 5 Kw irrespective of the sanctioned power limit of the households under net-metering, besides a faster increase in sanctioned loads.

During the installation of rooftop solar, the solar vendor and discoms work together to replace the consumers’ existing electricity meter with a “net-meter” for on-grid solar rooftops (for which subsidies are applicable). Net-meters are bidirectional meters that measure and calculate the final monthly electricity bills with a new methodology, tracking both import (from the grid) and export to the grid of electricity. These net-meters support the final generation of bills based on the difference between exported and imported electricity.

Rural areas & power cuts

Another key misunderstanding is the expectation that the rooftop solar systems would service the house during a power cut. A power cut in the locality would also lead to a power cut in the household connected with rooftop solar for safety reasons and for technical stability. So do not consider your solar to be a replacement for a battery inverter or backup.

In areas where there are frequent power cuts, consumers can consider opting for “hybrid inverters” which allow using solar even during power cuts. However, it requires additional expenditure on batteries and the total cost of such rooftop solar installations is higher than normal connections. And they will not qualify for PM Suryaghar subsidies, which are only for On-grid solar.

Maitreyi Karthik, Regional EnergyAnalyst, USAID SAREP Program, RTI International

Maitreyi Karthik

Maitreyi Karthik, Regional Energy Analyst at USAID South Asia Regional Energy Partnership (SAREP) programme at RTI International India said that lack of consistent grid power in rural areas and under-served areas is the reason polluting sources like diesel to ensure power backup find use.

“As it occurs, a negative perception gets generated around such systems, discouraging other consumers from considering adopting RTS PV. With hybrid systems, the inverter chargers send excess power from the solar PV panels to a battery backup that can kick in during a power cut. However it comes with its own associated challenges such as higher costs, limited power output, challenges in operation and maintenance and having high noise levels,” she told Saur Energy.

Bad installations

Strong, robust mounting structures and sound installations are paramount to the safety of rooftop solar connections. Many parts of India like the coastal regions are prone to extreme weather conditions like cyclones which can damage the modules and structures in case of unscientific installations or weak mounting structures. Experts claim that the choice of solar vendors (EPC players) is important for strong and long-lasting rooftop connections. In many cases, few cases of failed or underperforming rooftop projects often create a trust deficit among prospective solar rooftop consumers.

Rooftop Solar Capacity You Need

Rooftop Solar Capacity You Need

Source: National Rooftop Portal

“EPC players need to be chosen carefully based on their years of experience in handling such projects. The EPC player should be able to provide – 1) transparency at all stages of execution of the project by providing updates on the progress of the project, challenges encountered, involving project bidding, consultations,  planning, warranty, execution of the project, and handover of the project. 2) Ensuring quality standards by being responsible for ensuring all the expectations of the consumers are met. 3) Having appropriate project management capabilities with an experienced and qualified team for handling the project. 4) Optimization of the costs involved in the project by keeping the financials of implementing the project within the budget specified and at the same time help in scaling the returns associated with it,” Maitreyi Kartik said.

Radhika Choudary, Co-founder and Director of Freyr Energy

Radhika Choudary

Radhika Choudary, Co-founder and Director of Freyr Energy, a Hyderabad-based Rooftop Solar Company, emphasized the crucial need for clarity regarding the quality of materials utilized in rooftop solar projects. According to her, such projects involve more than just solar modules and inverters; there are various other components involved. She also stressed the importance of transparency throughout the project ownership process. Solar vendors must openly communicate with customers about the components chosen, ensuring they understand every aspect of the system, she said. Drawing a parallel with ride-hailing services like Uber or Ola, Radhika highlighted how transparency fosters trust by providing users with real-time information about the services they utilize. She suggested that adopting a similar level of transparency within the solar industry can help customer trust their solar vendors more easily.

She also pointed out that when financing partners like national banks or NBFCs are prepared to invest in rooftop solar projects or specific EPC firms, it reflects the confidence these financial backers have in these companies.

Bringing attention to the maintenance of rooftop solar projects, she sought to clarify the misconception that they require no upkeep. “They may be low-maintenance, but they’re not maintenance-free,” she emphasized. “Regular cleaning and preventive checkups are essential. To ensure peak performance, we provide maintenance (addon services) for the initial five years to our customers. In some cases, we even install automatic panel cleaning systems, especially for projects where panels are inaccessible or where dust accumulation is higher, to maintain adequate energy generation. She further added that customized solutions are necessary as one size doesn’t fit all, and they design and provide solutions based on individual or site requirements.

Modules and Inverters

Ashok Singh, President (Solar Business), Novasys

Ashok Singh

“The rooftop solar scheme mandates the use of only DCR( Domestic Content Requirement)  solar cells. Currently, a selected few Indian solar modules makers like Adani Solar, Waaree, Premier and Tata Power make solar cells. They are comparatively expensive too compared to non-DCR. However, with more production plans in the pipeline, we can expect DCR cell production to rise in India soon,” Ashok Singh, President (Solar Business), Novasys, a module manufacturer, told Saur Energy.

As per estimates, India’s total solar cell manufacturing capacity is pegged at around 7.5 GW, compared to 40 GW for modules, which is likely to go upto 26 GW by the end of 2024 for cells, and 54 GW for Modules.

Solar inverters, the ‘brains’ behind the solar plant today offer a wealth of data for the consumer and installer to use and act on. Connected via a sim card or wifi, these inverters provide real-time info on generation, besides other issues.

Rajan Munjal, Channel Head, Sungrow India

Rajan Munjal

Rajan Munjal, National Channel Sales Manager at Sungrow India, when asked about the right choice of inverter firms for consumers, says, “The main thing that needs to be checked is the track record of the inverter brand. The consumers need to check on the existence of the firm in India, its manufacturing capacity in the country and its popularity in other segments of the solar business in India like utility scale, Consumer and Industrial sector and others. Some solar vendors rope in cheap inverters especially in Tier I and Tier II cities due to the price sensitive markets there while in many cases reputed national and international brands are used for prestige projects. Most inverters offer 5 years of warranty. Sungrow gives seven years of warranty and some other may offer longer periods of warranty too.”


Financing is another important part but often less talked about in the overall rooftop solar business.

For example, for a 3 Kw rooftop solar project, the total cost comes in the range of Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh, based on the technologies, components, services and solar inverters. The consumers need to pay this to get the rooftop solar projects installed, with the subsidies credit after the payments and activation of plant. Getting a loan from banks can consume more time , while digital platforms (NBFCs) have emerged as new solutions to finance the smaller loans needed for such projects. These NBFCs have tied up with select installers with a good record and process loan applications much faster.

Swapnil Wakade, Business Head (Rooftop Solar), Ecofy

Swapnil Wakade

Ecofy is one of the green-only NBFCs offering dedicated rooftop solar loans. Swapnil Wakade, Business Head (Rooftop Solar) at Ecofy told Saur Energy NBFCs have carved out a niche in the rooftop solar lending market by overcoming the hurdles customers face when obtaining bank loans.

“Through an NBFC like Ecofy, consumers can get faster loan approvals without having to go through voluminous paperwork. Due to this, rooftop solar consumers can afford these projects without having to worry about the high upfront costs. Consumers often find it challenging to cover the initial expense of rooftop solar installations due to limited awareness about financing choices,” Wakade added. The National Solar Portal itself showcases several banks and NBFCs which offer rooftop solar loans to consumers.

Common Concerns of Rooftop Solar Consumers

Q. Will my AC/heavy appliances work with rooftop solar?

As the rooftop solar installed under the PM Surya Ghar is an on-grid system, all household appliances work on the system. The on-grid systems combine solar power and also the electricity coming from the grid.

Q. What is on-grid and off-grid rooftop solar system?

Under the on-grid system, the rooftop solar is connected to the grid (through the local electricity lines coming to your home). The government is currently giving subsidies under the PM Surya Ghar scheme only for on-grid rooftop solar. In an off-grid solar system, the rooftop solar is connected to the household and not integrated with the grid. This is mainly used in rural areas and where power supplies are erratic.

Q. What is a net-meter?

Net-meters are bidirectional meters. This is mandatorily used in on-grid rooftop solar systems, especially in the residential sector. This ensures the import of necessary grid electricity to the household and also tracks the surplus solar energy produced from rooftop solar.

Q. How to apply for rooftop solar under PM Surya Ghar?

You can apply directly through the National Rooftop Portal. The application is free of cost and the consumers need to fill in details like their discom, area, upload electricity bill details, sanctioned capacity of their electricity meter and fill in details of the required capacity of rooftop solar.

Q. Are the rates fixed for rooftop solar installations?

MNRE has fixed the benchmark subsidies per Kw of rooftop solar at Rs 50,000. However, the final price is invariably higher based on the mutually agreed price between the consumer and solar vendor. For example, the final price for a 3 Kw of rooftop solar varies in the range of Rs 1.45 lakh to Rs 3 lakh based on the technology, terrain, structures used and the companies picked up by the consumer. Rates are usually higher in hill states, besides some South Indian states.

Q. Does rooftop solar need maintenance and upkeep?

Yes. Rooftop solar needs regular cleaning and maintenance. However, as per MNRE norms, the onus is on the solar vendors to ensure the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) of the rooftop solar structures for the initial five years.

Q. What is the life of solar modules?

The normal expected life cycle of solar modules is around 25 years. Meanwhile, its efficiency also degrades with time, typically by about 15% by the end of life.

Q. What is the warranty period for solar modules and inverters?

Most solar modules and inverters offer five years of product warranty. Several brands offer extended warranties too.

Q. How can I select the solar company to install rooftop solar?

The National Rooftop Portal has a list of all the empaneled solar vendors city and state-wise. You can choose one of the firms based on your preference, including financing.

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