India has installed over 25 GW of solar to date. Out of the installed capacity, rooftop solar accounts for just over 2.5 GW. The residential segment accounts for just one fifth of the rooftop capacity and compared to large-scale solar, rooftop installations are still well behind. Solar kits introduced into the market by several companies are beginning to make inroads into the rooftop solar sector in India.
Rooftop solar kits have the potential to transform the growth trajectory and acceptance levels of rooftop solar systems in Indian homes due to the numerous benefits they offers to the consumers. So far in India, the commercial and industrial (C&I) sector has accounted for majority of rooftop solar PV installations.
Other than the upfront costs and subsidy payment delays an easy installation process and worry-free maintenance are key for residential rooftop customers.
A typical rooftop solar installation requires licenses and permits from various government agencies which many consumers do not want to deal with. Unavailability of qualified installers operating at this scale and the associated risk involved makes putting up a rooftop solar system on the roof a daunting task for residential consumers.
Talking to Mercom, Sachin Bhalla, the vice president of solar solutions provider Luminous said, “We have come out with innovative solutions to attract the residential consumers. Earlier, the consumer did not have the freedom to install the entire system on his own in his residence, now we are providing the consumer with that choice. We are providing solar kit solutions in the range of 2 kW to 10 kW. These will cover all sorts of houses with their varied power demands.”
“With this, the consumer is getting the entire rooftop solar PV system at his doorstep without running to DISCOM, EPC, distributor, retailer and so on, there is less hassle. Now, we also provide with our solution a 5-year unquestioned insurance of the kit solution. Regardless of the cause of wear and tear, we will replace the module or any other damaged parts. The consumer does not have to bother about servicing. Our pricing is also competitive as we are providing the entire solution set, so we can cut down costs and yet ensure the best quality,” added Sachin.
Talking to Mercom about the potential of rooftop solar kits, Rahul Mishra, CEO at Rays Future Energy, another solar solutions provider said, “We have kit solutions in the range of 2 kW to 10 kW. Earlier, this wasn’t available, and there weren’t a variety of capacities to choose from. Now, we can cater to each type of demand. We have the physical presence, servicing, and competitive pricing. All these will contribute towards acceptability and adoption of rooftop solar PV in Indian homes. Even in tier 2 cities, this will help as they have huge number of homes with large rooftop areas. And the cost is less when you take the entire solution from one provider.”
To cater to different solar power needs of customers, Luminous offers two kits that are essentially off grid systems and on grid GTI systems. Off grid systems are the combination of solar panels, inverter and battery which basically cater to the power back up need of the consumer. The electricity generated from the panels are stored in the battery and can be used as power back up during the time of electricity cut. These systems are useful in areas where there are more power cuts and the electricity or grid supply is not constant. The system range varies from 1 kW to 10 kW.
On grid (GTI) systems consists of a Grid Tie Inverter (GTI) connected to solar panels and is used for savings needs of the consumer. On grid systems do not come with batteries and are used when the core objective is savings and there is no power back up requirement. It is useful in areas where there are fewer electricity cuts. The electricity produced using this system is sent back to the grid which in return reduces electricity bills, and hence results in savings. The system capacity ranges from 1 kW to 50 kW.
Recently, Tata Power Solar also launched a complete residential rooftop solution in Ajmer. The residential rooftop solutions are expected to save up to ₹50,000 (~$680) annually for 25 years. Ashish Khanna, the president of Tata Power (Renewables), told Mercom, “It is our endeavor to provide knowledge of commercial benefits as well as quality aspects of solar rooftop installations to our residential consumers. We are hopeful that with initiatives like these, wherein we not only offer cost-effective green energy, but also help consumer in energy conservation, will achieve our company’s objective of ‘Lighting up Lives’.”
Complete kit solutions with battery backup for a 2 kW system can cost in the range of ₹200,000 (~$2,721), according to the pricing data available for solar kit solutions. This also includes servicing of the systems. Almost all the companies that have products in this range are enthusiastic that consumers are more accepting of these solar kits. They are easy to install, and the cost incurred initially is comparatively less as these are integrated systems. The second point that makes these kits more popular is the servicing being provided by firms.
Are solar kits the answer for a slow growing residential solar rooftop solar market? We have to wait and see.