Time for the distributed solar segment to grow

Since the beginning of India’s push for solar energy and the launch of the National Solar Mission in 2009, two segments of the solar market have been in focus for both corporations and national and state governments – utility scale and distributed segments. The former’s realizable potential has been estimated by BRIDGE TO INDIA at 53-69 GW by 2024 and the latter at 57-76 GW[1] However, only the utility scale segment has been able to establish a strong foothold in India’s energy sector. As of October 2014, 90% of approximately 3,000 MW of solar PV installations are attributed to the utility scale solar segment. The distributed segment, on the other hand, has contributed less than 10%, totaling a mere 285 MW[2]For the distributed markets to grow faster, a practical solution is needed.

  •  Consumer awareness: consumer need to be educated to understand the benefits and limitations of solar
  • Decision making tools: Consumers also need the right tools to assess and choose the right solar solutions for themselves
  • BRIDGE TO INDIA has developed IndiaGoesSolar.com (IGS) as a comprehensive solution for consumers who are thinking of going solar

Unfortunately, while the utility scale solar market is well on its way to becoming a stable consolidated segment, the distributed market is still facing a steep uphill battle. There are a number of contributing factors, but the most difficult to overcome is customer ignorance about solar. An online survey we conducted found that over 90% of customers view solar as either important or somewhat important for India and for themselves. The survey also found that there are prevailing misconceptions and a general lack of awareness and confidence on solar PV’s capabilities. The customers are usually surprised when they learn of solar’s adaptability to their unique power needs.

However, the story is not all that gloomy for the distributed segment. There is light at the end of the tunnel: By October 2014, solar commercial systems crossed grid parity in eight states without using accelerated depreciation (AD). The number rose to 13 states when AD was added to the mix. Meanwhile industrial systems, using AD, have crossed grid parity in 11 states[3]. Our assessment is that falling solar prices and rising demand will be the main driver for adoption of solar in these states.

BRIDGE TO INDIA projected that based in the commercial fundamentals alone, India will add 1.5 GW of rooftop solar capacity in the next four years. This represents approximately USD 2 billion[4]. Meanwhile, the Indian government is targeting 40 GW of distributed solar capacity by 2020[5]. To achieve this scale the solar rooftop market is in need of a solution that not only spreads awareness but also offers the consumer tools to determine solar needs, and correct and reliable information about solution provides.

Acknowledging this requirement, BRIDGE TO INDIA has developed INDIA GOES SOLAR (www.IndiaGoesSolar.com), unique website designed to help end consumers make informed decisions about going solar. The website features a solar calculator, educates consumers about solar and its capabilities through easily consumable articles, publishes unbiased reviews of solar products, provides a curated list of solar installers and suppliers in every state, and a dedicated platform for the solar enthusiasts to discuss and clarify issues or concerns. The website will also partner with a number of regional newspapers and magazines to help consumers make informed choices. IGS has already started to make an impact. MNRE recently tweeted about it and consumers are coming on the website through organic search.

For the distributed market to grow at a substantial pace and solidify itself, all industry stakeholders will have to work together to eradicate the lack of consumer awareness. It is a mammoth task, one that INDIA GOES SOLAR is dedicated to overcome in order to help the market grow.

[1] BRIDGE TO INDIA estimates. See our report “Beehives or Elephants”. (http://www.bridgetoindia.com/blog/reports/2128-2/)
[2] BRIDGE TO INDIA market intelligence. See our India Solar Rooftop Map 2015 (http://www.bridgetoindia.com/our-reports/indian-solar-map/)
[3] BRIDGE TO INDIA market intelligence. See our India Solar Rooftop Map 2015 (http://www.bridgetoindia.com/our-reports/indian-solar-map/)
[4] Using current market average of INR 8 Cr/MW and current currency conversion rate INR 60/USD.
[5] MNRE’s target for rooftop solar by 2020. (http://mnre.gov.in/file-manager/UserFiles/Press-Release-Grid-Interactive-Solar-Rooftop.pdf)

2 comments

  • For Residential Roof-Top Solar plants, the Netmetering concept is a great boon.
    But seems the Bi-directional Net Meters not available in many places.. at least in Tamil Nadu.
    There are projects completed months ago and unable to go online because we dont have the Net Meters..
    Can some one represent this issue to the concerned authorities and make the Net Meters available freely ?

  • The role of state utilities, distribution licensees and State Regulatory Commissions is vital for making distributed solar systems practicable. Basically the role should be to make the process conducive and responsive to neds of small users. However till date the state utilities have not taken any steps in the direction.

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