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C&I rooftop solar capacity in India to grow by 47% in 2021

Commercial and industrial (C&I) consumers in India are set to increase rooftop solar energy capacity by 47% in 2021 compared to the previous year, according to a new report released by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and JMK Research.

The C&I consumers are expected to install up to 1,875 MW of new rooftop solar capacity in 2021. This is thanks to the increase in emerging and innovative solar technology solutions that are fast and cost-effective to install.

The new solar technologies include larger-sized, wafer-based modules which allow higher power output of more than 500 kWp, bifacial modules which produce power from both sides of the panel, battery storage and integrated solar PV, and vehicle charging.

Bifacial modules increase the capacity produced by a solar cell by 4 to 5% compared to monofacial modules hence reduces the levelised cost of energy, according to the study. In addition, using higher-wattage modules increases a plant’s generation capacity by 1% while the balance of system (BOS) costs ” everything in the solar system except the modules ” reduce by 1%.

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In addition, the increase is thanks to efforts by the sector to rebound from the effects of the pandemic which slowed down installations in 2020. C&I consumers in India are increasingly reliant on onsite solar as they seek to reduce electricity costs and achieve corporate renewable energy targets, according to the Emerging Technology Trends in the C&I Rooftop Solar Market in India study.

Vibhuti Garg, Energy Economist and Lead India at IEEFA, said: “The pandemic has increased the price sensitivity of C&I consumers who already pay higher tariffs to cross-subsidise agricultural and residential consumers. Saving on electricity costs is absolutely critical for them.

“Solar module and battery prices have already fallen and with the government’s new Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme to boost domestic solar manufacturing, solar technology prices are expected to drop even further.”

Moreover, the ability of the sector to access and explore various financing options is accelerating the uptake of rooftop solar in India. The government is expected to continue enacting policies that support the adoption of electric vehicles which will also require companies to install onsite solar projects to provide chargers with clean energy. With battery prices expected to fall dramatically to US$100/kWh by 2023, solar+battery storage rooftop projects are also likely to pick up the pace.

The C&I segment represents about three-quarters of India’s rooftop solar market is crucial to the country’s energy transition journey, states the report.

There is also a huge opportunity for rooftop solar+Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) to replace diesel gensets, which represent 90GW of aggregate capacity in behind-the-meter applications in India, according to the study.

Find out more about the report.