Rooftop Solar as a sub-sector is growing continuously but this is not enough to catch up the target of 40 GW by 2022. Various policy initiatives are being taken by the Government to push it as much as possible; the project cost has been reduced drastically but it may affect the quality of the installation if right care is not taken.
The growth of rooftop projects in India has been remarkable since 2013, the compound annual growth rate has been 117% since April 2013. But, to meet the target of 40 GW, it needs to be further improved and Government is taking initiatives like auctions; it is making the competition severe but opening the risk of quality of work simultaneously.
Indian rooftop PV costs are among the lowest in the world; cheaper than even china from where it imports most of the components.
Moreover, the upper limit on project capex fixed by the government on the rooftop auction projects under auction, a subsidy of Rs.18750/- per kWp, in most of the states are some of the reasons of lower tariff in the Government tenders.
It has been seen that the hard cost of the projects (such as key components) has been reduced but the soft cost of the projects such as manpower cost, promotional cost and other associated service related expenses have not reduced. All these are causing chances to have Poor quality of installation which may cause serious challenges in future: –
- Rooftop service providers can make several quality compromises which may be overlooked by the consumer who is interested to buy cheapest power only
- Can lead to less output as well as damage to the roof
- Only established companies have in-house team for execution as well as quality control
- Best practices guideline is not followed by users because of lack of awareness
- System performance degradation issue may not be prominent immediately; later in absence of the EPC, become difficult to get service unless long-term performance contract is in place
So, it is better to have OPEX model where the plant operation lies with the developer. Again, proper long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) may reduce chances of such happening along with awareness of the owner about all these quality aspects of project installation and its consequences. It is always suggested to hire an Owner’s Engineer to ensure the quality of procurement and execution if the owner is not technically competent to ensure all these.
Some of the examples of poor quality project execution are as mentioned below: –
- Incorrect polarity can cause fire
- Ruptured cables can damage the roof
- Improperly sized glands can allow water to enter
- Improper panel layout can cause shading
- Improper designed earthing pit can have very less life
- Corrosion of bolts may cause rupture
References: Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), Nov 2017, Accelerating India’s Clean Energy Transition