C&I Rooftop to Add 1875 MW Solar Capacity in India in 2021: IEEFA, JMK

Highlights :

  • A new report shows India’s commercial and industrial (C&I) segment in calendar year 2021 is estimated to grow by 47% on a year-over-year basis in 2021.
  • Since Indian residential & agricultural users are subsidised while C&I consumers are levied additional surcharges and tariffs, rooftop solar is an economically viable solution for C&I segment.

India’s commercial and industrial (C&I) segment in calendar year 2021 is estimated to grow by 47% on a year-over-year basis to add 1,875 MW of new capacity, shows a new report published by Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and JMK Research.

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The report titled “Emerging technology trends in the C&I rooftop solar market in India” finds that the C&I segment, which has largely led the recent rise in rooftop solar in the country and comprises about three-quarters of the Indian rooftop solar market, is expected to bounce back this year despite the pandemic disrupting and slowing down installation rates in 2020.

The pandemic-induced challenges have necessitated cost-optimisation in the C&I sector. This can be achieved by adopting various new innovative technological rooftop solar solutions, which can help corporates to fulfil their RE100 (100% renewable energy) or other corporate social responsibility goals, argues the report.

In India, residential and agricultural users are subsidised while C&I consumers are levied an additional significant cross-subsidy surcharge leading to higher than average mains electricity tariffs. As a result, rooftop solar is an economically viable solution for C&I consumers, Vibhuti Garg, Energy Economist, IEEFA, has explained in the past.

As of 2020, the market size of rooftop solar was 7,920 MW, with the C&I segment accounting for more than 75% of the market. Rooftop solar capacity addition in the C&I segment in CY21 is estimated to grow by 47% on a Y-o-Y basis to add 1,875MW of new capacity.

Key New Trends Being Explored in the Indian market

The study shows that energy generation can be increased via adoption of large format modules (400+/500+Wp series), bifacial modules depending on site-specific conditions, and battery storage for specific applications by C&I clients. With falling module and battery prices, switching to a rooftop solar or rooftop solar+storage model can help them save significantly on electricity costs. Technology prices in India are expected to fall further on account of various new government incentives, such as the Production Linked Incentive (PLI), and new expansionary initiatives being planned by domestic manufacturers.

Additionally, there is a growing need to optimise costs and maximise output (kWh/m2) in a given project area, especially in the C&I segment (given the limited rooftop/onsite space). Bifacial modules allow players to achieve that at a negligible additional cost. With bifacial modules, power can be produced from both sides of a panel, increasing total energy generation viz-a-viz a monofacial module-equipped project, thus reducing the levelised cost of energy (LCOE). The project case studies in this report highlight the increase in generation owing to bifacial modules of about 4-5% compared with polycrystalline modules.

Solar+battery storage rooftop projects are also likely to pick up pace in the near future. In a time span of about two years (by 2023), battery prices are estimated to fall to US$100/kWh, which would shift the market forward for integrated rooftop solar and battery storage systems from the present cusp phase. Specifically, there is a huge opportunity for rooftop solar+Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) to replace diesel gensets, which represents 90GW of aggregate capacity in behind-the meter (BTM) applications in India.

Another nascent onsite technological model is rooftop solar integrated with EV charging stations, which can potentially provide greater self-sufficiency for C&I consumers. Solar carports are already becoming a popular with C&I customers for saving costs. Captive charging is permitted in accordance with the Ministry of Power’s Charging Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles – Guidelines and Standards. Further, many states such as Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, etc., through their state EV policies, promote the interlinking of a captive renewable energy system and EV charging infrastructure.

Additionally, the adoption of Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) can provide architectural features and generate green power, given that more than 50% of the buildings likely to stand in India by 2030 are yet to be built.

The full report can be accessed here.

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Soumya Duggal

Soumya is a master's degree holder in English, with a passion for writing. It's an interest she has directed towards environmental writing recently, with a special emphasis on the progress being made in renewable energy.