Lenders Reluctant to Finance Rooftop Solar Due to Lack of Resale Market
RE100 initiative has been the chief driver of solar adoption in the C&I segment
Mercom hosted a virtual conference, ‘Mercom India Solar Forum 2021‘on October 21, 2021.
In one of the sessions titled ‘Rooftop Solar – Demand is Up Despite Policy Restrictions,’ the experts discussed the future demand, policy support, and the enabling environment needed to make rooftop accessible to people who want a greener alternative.
The panelists included Ravinder Singh, Chief, Solar Rooftop Business, Tata Power; Honey Raza, Head, Sales-India, Ginlong Technologies; and Lakshminarayanan Sankaran, Vice President, E&M, Bangalore International Airport Limited.
Lakshminarayanan said that the daily demand of the Bangalore International Airport was about 200,000 units, and the monthly average is anywhere between 5-6 million units. Currently, the power requirement is on the lower end as the covid-19 pandemic has significantly reduced air travel. Lakshminarayanan, however, believes traffic would soon pick up, and riding on its heel, the power demand would too. The airport has installed 2.5 MW ground-mounted and 4.5 MW rooftop solar to supply its annual power demand of 72 million units. Lakshminarayanan also claimed that Bangalore Airport has been carbon neutral since December 2020.
Speaking about the demand for rooftop solar, Ravinder Singh commented that residential customers could meet 100% of their power demand from rooftop solar systems. Commercial or industrial (C&I) customers generally meet 30-40% of their demand. While the C&I consumers are also exploring offsite options, medium and micro enterprises and residential customers are just beginning their green transition.
While sharing his appreciation to Mercom for its industry insights and reports, Raza mentioned that the rooftop segment contributed to 75% of Ginlong’s annual revenue for FY20-21. Raza forecasts Ginlong would achieve ~600 MW of inverter installations of the total sales target of 800 MW.
Ravinder attributed the wide adoption of solar among businesses to multiple factors. He said that the large multinational corporates are going green due to their commitments as part of RE100 and other initiatives. Corporates serving global giants are persuaded by their customers to go green to ensure their entire value chain is greener. MSMEs are adopting solar to save on operating costs. According to Ravinder, religious and educational institutions were the early solar adopters in India.
The younger generation is more inclined toward solar power due to environmental reasons, but the majority prefer it due to economical reasons. Ravinder stated that as the solar ecosystem has picked up in India, Tata Power has ~4000 system integrators who are confident about solar demand.
Commenting on BESCOMs empanelment for inverter manufacturers, Raza said, “Ginlong welcomes any quality certification which would improve the value of inverters. However, if a similar precedent were introduced by every distribution company (DISCOM) in India, each DISCOM would have an empanelment process, it would be a huge bottleneck. DISCOMs would have to be educated about the different inverters for each segment. It will be ideal if there is a central empanelment with consensus from all DISCOMs in a single-window process.”
Commenting on the reluctance of banks and financial institutions to finance rooftop solar systems, Ravinder said that the lack of a resale market for a rooftop solar system is a cause of worry for lenders. When the customers default the payments, lenders are either unable to transfer the assets or resell. This is one of the main reasons rooftop solar financing has been a challenge.
Click here to view a recording of this panel discussion.