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Top builders rush to install solar rooftops on dipping costs, favourable govt policies

19 Sep 2016

solar-homecopyNEW DELHI: Major real estate developers like DLF, Lodha, Vatika, IREO and Wadhwa Group are increasingly opting for solar rooftops on their buildings due to lower lifecycle costs, favourable state policies and a brand differentiation.

While Mumbai-based real estate firm Lodha Group is running a pilot project using solar energy at its 4,500-acre township named Palava in Mumbai, another city based developer. The Wadhwa Group has tied up with Waaree Energies for installing solar panels across all their projects.

DLF has recently tied up with solar energy developer Azure Power to set up solar panels on the rooftops of its Gurgaon properties, while Vatika Group has tied up with Amplus Energy Solutions to set up solar rooftop systems across six buildings in Gurgaon.

Private equity fund and developer IREO has also tied up for 100% solar power with a 9 mega watt (mw) third-party dedicated solar farm in Haryana for its first building at the 11 million sq ft IT SEZ being developed in Gurgaon's Golf Course Extension Road. The building will also have 600 KW rooftop solar panels.

The cost of generation of solar power through rooftops comes to around Rs 6-7 per unit or kilo watt hour (kwh), whereas peak power tariff in a state like New Delhi comes to around Rs 8 per unit, according to Amit Kumar, partner energy & utilities, PwC.

Also, solar rooftops have a lifetime of around 25 years, where the cost of generation stays stable as the sunrays are free, but the tariff increases by around 5% year-on-year. "This means the lifecycle costing makes it more viable than grid power, where the cost of generation increases with time," Kumar said.

The solar rooftop market in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 60% between 2016 and 2021, backed by favourable government measures and abundant solar resources, according to a TechSci Research report.

Improving manufacturing technology has led to reduction in cost of solar panels resulting in the overall cost of power generation.

Sanjeev Aggarwal, managing director and chief executive officer, Amplus Energy, feels the cost savings from solar power generation from rooftops can vary from 15% to 40% depending on the size of the project and the state in which the project is located. "Also builders are using solar rooftops as a brand building tool to sell homes to their customers," he added.

The central government scaled up the financial assistance for grid connected rooftop and small solar power plants programme by nearly 10-fold to Rs 5,000 crore last year, in a bid to increase the use of clean energy.

The government has also revised the target of National Solar Mission (NSM) from 20,000 mw to 100,000 mw by 2022. Of that, 40,000 MW is to come through grid connected solar rooftop systems.

There is some subsidy element as well that the central government has announced and might not be available for long, feels Kumar. "Thus, builders are making sure they avail the benefits of the same at the earliest," he added.

Many states have also taken several policy measures to promote solar power generation through rooftops.

The Haryana government has set a target of generating 1,600 MW power through rooftop solar plants by 2021-22 and and mandated installation of solar power plants of 3-5% connected load for all residential buildings on plots of 500 square yards and more as part of the Haryana solar power policy.

Solar plants are also mandatory in all government and private educational institutes, universities and offices having connected load of 30 kw and on top of all private hospitals, and industrial and commercial establishments having connected load of 50 kw.

The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) last year allowed residents to install solar panel on rooftops to generate electricity. However, the power generated will have to be sold to the civic body, and residents cannot utilise it for their consumption.

The West Bengal government is also set to introduce a policy that will encourage households and other institutional and commercial buildings to install rooftop solar plants and do their bit in reducing carbon footprint.

By Sanjay Bansal | Founder & CEO | Affordable Homes India

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