Research Solar

Solar Rooftop Lessons from Delhi


The national capital of India – Delhi, is the second most populated city of the world. It is a leading commercial of India that has accommodated a lot of people and also faces challenges for degraded air quality due to heavy pollution levels.

The city officials and residents have realized the need to curb this environmental stress they are facing. The acceptance of Solar Electricity has been on the top of the checklist.

Delhi outspreads Solar Rooftop Market

The city with very high population density has adopted new methods in alignment with regulatory aids to boost the solar rooftop usage. It is found that if these new approaches implemented in New Delhi are adopted nationwide, then the country would be benefitted with following:

  • Additional 8 GW of solar capacity by 2022
  • Reduced electricity bills for 2.6 million household
  • Job creation of about 100,000 to 150,000
  • Reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 10 mega-tonnes a year

This is equivalent to closing four coal-fired power stations. The main target or say objective of the New Delhi model was to make renewable energy accessible to low-income households.

Hurdles for Delhi to adopt Rooftop Solar

There is no wonder how Delhi population rises and so does its Electricity demands.Rooftop solar can be an apt solution to it but the city faced a lot of challenges to even install solar PV systems on rooftops to harness low tariffed electricity from sun’s insolation. In this section, we discuss the hurdles Delhi had to face to adopt the rooftop solar.

High Population Density

The national capital is 97.5% urbanised with one of the world’s highest population density of about 11,297 people per square kilometre. The city of 18 million people in 2016 is recorded to have fastest growing population number and high electricity consumption rates.

A 1kW Solar PV system needs minimal of 100 sq. ft. space for setup. Thus, this was one of the barriers to go solar to combat air pollution and fluctuating high-end electricity tariffs.

High Upfront Cost

The solar panel costs have plummeted by 70% since year 2010. However, it has been found out that large swaths of the global population is still unable to afford the up-front cost of installation.

This is the major barrier for low-income households to install solar PV systems.

Energy Eco-system Imbalance

The energy eco-system that comprises of the consumers, the energy generators and energy distributors is affected when consumers go Solar. This is because the consumers can now generate their own electricity and don’t rely completely on generators (power plants) and distributors. However, they are still dependent on the grid infrastructure and the entire eco-system. This has bared tremendous losses to distribution companies (DISCOMs).

These local DISCOMs that have to stand with the loss of revenue as the consumer switch to solar are expected to facilitate its roll-out anyway. The eco-system imbalance and business models to roll-over or balance this are a must.

Other Barriers or Hurdles

The limited deployment of rooftop solar also owes to the following persistent barriers which are not only applicable to just city of New Delhi but the entire nation. These include:

  • lack of awareness
  • public misperceptions about the costs and risks of solar power
  • long payback periods
  • ineffective implementation of financial incentives

Smart Solutions by Delhi to adopt Rooftop Solar

The Delhi government could achieve the motto ofpromoting and adopting solar electricity in its community by focusing on things like certainty in regulatory policies with flexible metering options (Group Net Metering or GNM& Virtual Net Metering or VNM), innovative Business Models that are hybrid of both CAPEX & OPEX and tie-up with banks for loans to combat up-front cost issue.

The basic framework for the innovative Business Models is set by the metering policies – GNM & VNM. Let us take a brief glimpse of these prime metering policies.

Virtual Net Metering

This is a metering arrangement in which the generated renewable energy is exported to the grid from gross meter and the energy exported is adjusted in more than one electricity service connection(s) of participating consumer located within the same distribution licensee’s area of supply.

For Whom?The consumers lacking own rooftop spaces can benefit from this policy.

Group Net Metering

A group of people can come together to avail a solar plant a net meter. The surplus energy exported to the grid from a solar plant at the location of the solar plant can be adjusted in any other (one or more) electricity service connection(s) of the consumer within the NCT of Delhi, provided these connections are in the same DISCOM territory.

For Whom?A group of consumers can come together to avail this policy.

Thus, both these metering support the hybrid concept of the CAPEX & RESCO models. It also helps DISCOM participate to route energy transmission and prevent the direct to-and-fro transmission power to the main grid. In all, the economic energy eco-system is maintained.

They form the basis ofbusiness models or concepts like the utility-led Community Solar, On-bill Financing and Solar Partnerships.

Lessons to learn from Delhi for Rooftop Solar

The densely polluted city with 300 days of sunshine on an average in a year and 31 square kilometres of rooftop space owing to rooftop potential of 2.9 GW of which 49% is meant for residential sector, has made space to adopt the clean and green solar electricity.

The localities, investors, banks, DISCOMs and regulatory bodies come together to make a sustainable eco-system for betterment of the environment and their pockets as well. The regulatory bodies could identify the problem via root-cause analysis in all related bodies and directions to lay the policies that aid the solar PV installations, while also address the issues of high-upfront costs, limited available space and combat the losses DISCOM might face in this electricity transition.

Thus, the states can learn from Delhi to identify all the problems in all the directions via root-cause analysis and lay business models and metering systems that aid to promote the sustainable solar PV installations.