NEW DELHI: Solar panels on the rooftop that produce a kilowatt of power are no longer beyond the reach of ordinary citizens. Such a project will cost around Rs 60,000, even less if the central government’s 30% subsidy is factored in. In fact, generating the energy to run two fans and two lights could come at the price of a high-end smartphone.
The investment of around Rs 50,000 on putting up the solar panels would have a payback period of around three years. Till a year ago, generating each kilowatt of solar power cost upward of Rs 90,000.
“Over the past 6-7 years, the prices of solar modules have fallen 85%,” said Jasmeet Khurana, associate director (consulting), Bridge to India, a consultancy specialising in renewable energy. “This slide, coupled with increasing volumes, has led to the price crash.”
This has led to the notion that only large commercial projects stood to gain economically from solar power swiftly changing.
A kilowatt is equivalent to around 1400 units of power in a year, and the installed system would have a life of 25 years.
All this requires is a shadowfree space of at least 120 square feet on the roof. The potential for rooftop solar power in the capital is 2200 MW; Delhi’s peak power demand is around 6,600 MW.
The spokesperson of Tata PowerBSE 0.12 % Delhi Distribution Limited (TPDDL) told TOI, “Tapping solar power has become easier because the discoms now provide services such as installing net meters and facilitating subsidies.” TPDDL, which caters to north and north-west Delhi, today has 150 domestic and commercial consumers who have installed projects with a capacity of 7 MW on their rooftops.
BSES Delhi, the capital’s other discom, has around 300 solar rooftop generators, who produce 10 MW. “Consumers have begun to see how rooftop solar power generation reduces their electricity bills,” said an official of the utility.
Against around Rs 90,000 per kilowatt earlier, the Solar Energy Corporation of India now says the average cost in Delhi under a 500MW grid-connected project of a size bigger than 25kWp is just Rs 66,000.”
The payback period could be shorter if Delhi government’s generation-based incentive of Rs 2 per unit offered for the first three years is taken into consideration.
Commercial establishments, which are not entitled to this incentive, can still cut down on their energy expenses by opting for solar power generation.
“Mid-sized commercial projects will also gain from the accelerated depreciation of 40% and income-tax benefit for their capital investment,” said the TPDDL spokesperson.
Power department officials said the completion of vendor empanelment in a few weeks will facilitate consumers taking up rooftop projects.
Pujarini Sen, campaigner for Greenpeace India, is happy with this. “Solar power is financially reliable and is simultaneously a step in the fight against air pollution,” she said. “India has an ambitious target of 100GW of renewable energy by 2022, and all of us, as citizens, have a role to play in that.”