Wrapping up,

Key Concepts

  • Solar Power has High Potential – Solar power has a number of inherent strengths that makes it a high potential renewable energy source.
  • It’s Not a Passing Fad – Solar power is a proven, long lasting power generation system with competitive costs, and requiring only minimal maintenance.
  • Rooftop Solar Consumed on Site, Solar Farms Feed Power to Grid – While power from a rooftop solar power plant is usually consumed on site, power generated in large solar farms is in most cases fed to the grid from where it could be used either for captive purposes or otherwise.
  • Solar at Night Possible through Batteries – The only way you can directly use solar power at night is through the use of batteries.
  • Not a Complete Replacement – Rooftop solar power is unlikely to contribute all the power you need. It could contribute up to 80% for homes and 30% for commercial units and offices; for factories, rooftop solar alone is unlikely to contribute a large percentage of power required.
  • Can Work with Diesel Gensets – Solar power plants can work with diesel generators, but care should be taken during design to derive maximum benefits.

Components and Requirements

  • Pay Attention to Component Selection – An optimal selection of solar power plant components can make or break your solar power plant investment.
  • Area Required – A 1 kW solar power plant requires about 100 sq.ft or 10 sq.m.
  • Is Your Roof Suitable for Solar? – Most roofs are designed to withstand the weight of solar panels. If your roof is of asbestos or plastic, or is very old, make sure you consult a structural engineer before putting up the panels.
  • O&M – The O&M costs for solar power plants are small, with typical O&M expenses in India being only about 1% of the total capital cost.
  • Approvals & Permits – There is some legwork involved to get the permits required. Choosing a high quality professional installer will make this much easier.
  • Net Metering – Net Metering helps a rooftop solar power producer to monetize any surplus power generated and not consumed on the premises, but is exported to the grid.
  • Short Installation Duration – Solar power plant implementations take only a short amount of time, from just a couple of weeks for small plants to only a few months for even large solar farms.

 

Performance

  • Generation from a Solar Power Plant – Per kW, a solar PV power plant generates between 3-5 kWh (units) per day, the lower limit for regions with poor sunlight and the upper limit for regions with plentiful sunlight.
  • Performance during Rains or Clouds – Performance of the solar power plant gets affected during cloudy or rainy days, and its output can go down by up to 80% during these occasions.
  • Performance during Power Outages – Rooftop solar power plants can continue to generate power during power cuts only if there is a backup power source – such as batteries or diesel genset – available.

Costs

  • Cost of Solar Power – Cost of solar power in 2017, is in the range of Rs 4-5/kWh.
  • Subsidies – In India, capital subsidies are applicable only for small, residential rooftop solar power systems.
  • Tax Benefits – Investors in solar power plants in India can avail the tax benefit in the form of a 40% Accelerated Depreciation on investment.
  • Payback Periods – Payback periods for solar power plants are in a wide range of 4-10 years.
  • Solar Power without Upfront Costs – With existing business models such as BOOT/OPEX models, you can today use solar power without having to put money upfront.

Dos & Don’ts

  • Don’t Wait for Costs to Decrease Further – Waiting for solar panel and solar power costs to decrease dramatically is not a good idea. Cost decreases from now on will be gradual.
  • Don’t Wait for Tech Breakthroughs – Solar power plant technology improvement is more evolutionary than revolutionary. So do not wait for big breakthroughs.
  • Invest for Quality – The pain from a poor quality product lasts long after the smile you get from having paid a low price has vanished.
  • Choose the Right Installer – Ensure your solar power plant is of good quality by ensuring you select the right EPC/installer.