Experts Shed Light on Technologies That Can Turn Rooftop Solar into Appreciating Assets

The stakeholders discussed a range of aspects affecting the rooftop solar segment in the webinar

May 19, 2020


The rooftop segment with nearly 4 GW of installations, is way off the target of 40 GW set by the government for December 2022. The rooftop market saw a steep decline of 33% in 2019, and things aren’t looking good in 2020, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many reasons can be attributed to the current predicament of the rooftop solar sector in the country. Though the segment is struggling right now, it is bound to become the choice of the residential as well as the commercial & industrial (C&I) consumers in years to come.

To talk about the role of advanced photovoltaic (PV) technologies in turning the rooftop solar systems into appreciation assets, Mercom India, in partnership with REC, organized a webinar on May 15, 2020.

Priya Sanjay, Managing Director, Mercom India moderated the webinar, while the panelists included Rohit Kumar, Head Indian Subcontinent, REC; Rakesh Bohra, Lead Consultant Energy and Utility Services, Infosys; Gagan Vermani, Founder, MD & CEO, MYSUN; and Dinesh K. Salem-Natarajan, Chairman & MD SootLess Energy.

The C&I segment has been the largest segment in terms of total installations in the past five years. Speaking about the latest products and technologies, Rohit Kumar from REC said, “We have deployed 50% of our modules in the rooftop solar market of whatever we have supplied in the Indian solar market. The HJT panels are going to be available to the Indian market by the end of July 2020 (60-cell panel), and the 72-cell panel will be available in the Indian market by October 2020.”

Replying to a question about the need to boost the rooftop segment in India, Rohit said, “Technology and quality come at a cost. The price of solar modules has come down, and the adoption will pick up in India soon. To boost the residential rooftop market in India, we should phase out subsidies as quickly as possible. We need to have a credit mechanism to incentivize residential solar. This is being done in other countries, and we need to create awareness among the consumers to provide the necessary boost.”

Speaking on the energy initiatives employed by Infosys, Infosys’ Rakesh Bohra, said, “We have achieved 44% of our energy consumption from renewables. We have 59 MW captive rooftop and ground-mounted solutions at various campuses of Infosys in India.”

On the latest technologies in the market, Rakesh said, “Since 2018 onwards, the passivated emitter rear cell (PERC) technology has been leading the way. But the heterojunction technology (HJT) will also play an important part in transforming the market in the future. As technologies are evolving, the market is also becoming more mature in adopting these new technologies. Bifacial technology is also one of the most sought-after technologies coming up, which can achieve up to 30% higher yield than the conventional cells. For commercial purposes, solar cell efficiency is around 20-25%. Mono PERC cells are good when compared to conventional mono, poly, and thin films, and they give 4-5% of extra generation.”

The segment is becoming more consumer-centric than infrastructure-centric, but still, a lot remains to be done to make it a consumer lending product. One of the main factors that are hindering the growth of the rooftop segment is the lack of proper financing.

Speaking on the financing woes, Gagan Vermani from MYSUN, said, “Finance is an integral part of solar. There is a potential of 125-250 GW of solar rooftop in India with the right business model. It is the time that we should move our business model to what the consumer really wants rather than to just make profits. There have been large credit lines provided to the Punjab National Bank (PNB) and the State Bank of India (SBI) by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The subsidized credit line is quite restricted because banks still see rooftop solar as an infrastructure product, not as a consumer lending product.”

While solar PV technologies are still evolving, there needs to be a better understanding of how the systems will perform and how the cost will dictate the adoption of new technologies.

Commenting on the use of the internet of things (IoT) in rooftop technology, Dinesh K. Salem-Natarajan of SootLess Energy, said, “Our IoT technology helps to identify the efficiency of the panels, its generation, and perform diagnostics to validate the installation of the panels at the site. The technology helps us to know how many panels are not generating enough electricity out of the total panels at the single site of the rooftop installation, thus helping in operation & maintenance.”

The cumulative rooftop solar installations in India has reached  4.4 GW, according to Q4 & Annual 2019 India Solar Market report released by Mercom India Research. Analyzing the problem areas and addressing the challenges is now crucial for driving the pace of installations in the coming years.

You can watch the webinar here.