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India’s 40 GW rooftop solar target ambitious but also realistic: Experts

A session on ‘Rooftop Solar PV Market Trends’ was held on day two of the 2nd Global Re-Invest India-ISA Partnership Renewable Energy Investors’ Meet & Expo. The session brought together experts who discussed global market trends, smart business models, and best practices in rooftop solar PV domain in India and Europe.

“Solar is emerging as a preferred technology given the cost reduction in the last few years. A lot of companies are looking at renewables as the way forward to reduce overall cost. Incentives and subsidies by MNRE have also given the segment a huge push. Also, unlike other renewable energy projects, rooftop solar gives consumers ways to easily adapt it to their needs. India has an ambitious rooftop solar target of 40 GW in installed capacity by 2022 and we have a long way to go,” said Mr. Rajneesh Sharma, Director, Consulting – Energy & Resources, Deloitte. He further explained, “We have still not seen a successful model to aggregate under the OPEX model. There is a lack of consumer awareness as well. We need tariff rationalization; we need to avoid frequent changes to net-metering framework; discoms and SNAs too need to be supported to facilitate implementation of roof top solar; and a rating mechanism should be created for developers.”

Mr Bruce Douglas, Deputy CEO and COO, Solar Power Europe also emphasised on awareness and education of consumers as well as the commercial sectors. Terming India’s 40 GW rooftop solar target as ambitious but also realistic, he added: “Small scale renewable projects are key drivers of the European energy transition. Small solar systems & storage are the backbone of a digitized, decarbonized, distributed and democratized energy system which empowers consumers, businesses and territories. We are looking at immense potential as well as socio-economic benefits. We need to look especially at the cities as they are responsible for 75% of energy demand and are therefore crucial to energy transition.”

Mr Jens Martin, CEO, Vidja and Vice Chair, Solar Power Europe drew the audiences’ attention towards utilities: “Utilities have the potential to create disruption. The future lies in solutions such as Google’s ‘Sunroof’ that helps you map your roof’s solar savings potential; ‘SolarCloud’ which is akin to virtual storage that can be used later for a different purpose. At E.ON we are developing solutions such as Smart Check that can even detect energy consumption at an appliance level.” He further added, “We need to take into account customers’ needs. Every market has a different need. European member countries are active in India and we are connecting with stakeholders like Indian industries’ associations and Indian solar players. We are identifying areas of collaboration between EU Businesses and India.”

Mr Somanth Yogi, Technical Head, Renewable Energy Cooperation, focused on the recycling aspect: “The end of commercially useful life of solar panels is usually 25-30 years. We need to ensure proper recycling. In Europe they have WEEE Framework making it mandatory for the importers of panels to recycle properly. In Singapore, private companies pay to take the scrap modules away. Japan’s Photovoltaic Energy Association has voluntary recycling guidelines which lays foundation for future enforceability. We need government regulations to deal with electrical waste directly. We need a complete overhaul in the system to redefine and classify solar modules into a defined category. A value chain needs to be created and customer needs to be incentivized to be an active participant.”

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