- Demand for onsite solar installations is increasing in India’s C&I segment as it is expected to grow up to over 1.8 GW in CY2021
- The need for businesses to decrease their carbon footprint along with electricity costs and the attractiveness of onsite solar with its falling prices act as incentives
- As BESS system prices drop, there will be more uptake of solar by the C&I segment going forward
A lull in the commercial and industrial (C&I) solar installations space in India in CY2020 brought on by COVID-19 related disruptions resulted in this segment to add only 1,274 MW, reflecting an annual decline of 27%. A new report sees this sector to grow by 47% to 1,875 MW in CY2021.
According to the report writers, demand for onsite solar installations has risen substantially and is expected to be sustained, thanks to businesses looking at reducing their electricity costs, carbon emissions, presence of new and innovative solar technology solutions in the space, and accessible financing options.
Falling module and battery energy storage system (BESS) prices also make switching over to a rooftop solar or rooftop solar+storage an attractive model to adopt, according to the report titled Emerging Technology Trends in the C&I Rooftop Solar Market in India Examining the Benefits and Challenges of New Technology Solutions. It is a joint collaboration between the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis and JMK Research & Analytics.
As battery storage prices come down to an estimated $100 per kWh by 2023, the market would further shift towards a rooftop solar+BESS system. “Specifically, there is a huge opportunity for rooftop solar+ BESS to replace diesel gensets, which represents 90 GW of aggregate capacity in behind-the-meter (BTM) applications in India,” reads the report.
Some of the interesting points covered in the report, with the help of case studies, are as follows:
- For the C&I segment, it is the capital expenditure (Capex) model that works best, compared to operating expenditure (Opex) model, since in the former the payback time is estimated between 3 to 4 years.
- Authors point out that while polycrystalline solar modules with lower wattage majorly dominate this segment in India, onsite solar systems with higher wattage mono-PERC modules (400W+ and 500W+) are now getting popular.
- “The M2 wafer (156.75mm x 156.75 mm) and M2.5 wafer (158.75mm x 158.75mm—introduced only last year) are being phased out in 2021. It is expected that the domestic rooftop solar market will shift from the M2.5 type to M6 (166mm x 166mm) cell-based modules in the near-term,” notes the report.
- Indian C&I installers are exploring new technological developments for C&I rooftop/onsite solar systems as larger sized wafer based modules allowing output of over 500 kW, bifacial modules, battery storage, solar PV integrated with electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and building integrated PV (BIPV).
“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,” according to IEEFA’s Energy Economist and Lead India, Vibhuti Garg. “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.”
The Emerging Technology Trends in the C&I Rooftop Solar Market in India Examining the Benefits and Challenges of New Technology Solutions report can be viewed and downloaded for free on IEEFA’s website.