Attractive Segments and Innovations in Rooftop Solar Sector

Attractive Segments for Residential Rooftop Solar Sector

The residential segment for rooftop solar is quite a tricky sector to target, especially for small companies. We have seen a good amount of marketing time and effort spent on residential sector by EPCs for very little returns.

We hence advise significant caution and strategy before EPCs start marketing to the residential sector.

We do not see significant demand from the urban areas where load shedding is low or medium. In these cities, we see only marginal demand from residential, coming mainly from the “early movers” who wish to have solar panels on their rooftop for aspirational reasons.

Attractive Segments for Industrial Rooftop Solar Power Sector

While there are a number of industrial and commercial establishments embracing solar power, we at Solar Mango feel that the following have higher prospects than the rest. These are early days, but the following list has been shortlisted based on what Solar Mango has inferred from a survey of rooftop solar power plants installed in the last few years, across India.

  • Banks
  • Colleges & Schools
  • Hotels
  • Warehouses (especially where Net Metering is available)
  • Software Cos. and BPOs

A few others that could also have attractive prospects include:

  • Hospitals
  • Dairy Farms
  • Factories
  • Foundries
  • Office Buildings
  • Shopping Malls

Several innovations in solar rooftop, both at the technical and commercial level, have made the solutions viable for a greater variety of users and increased its adoption.

Technology innovations

1.Non-penetrating mounting structures

The typical solar installation on a concrete roof requires mounting structures that penetrate the roof, raising concerns with waterproofing and other structural issues in some buildings. The use of non-penetrating mountings has allowed solar plants to be mounted on such buildings. This is widely used in India.

2.Elevated mounting structures

Mounting structures that elevate the solar panels above the roof allow the roof to be also used for other purposes, may create a slightly cooler top floor, and increase panel cooling due to greater exposure to the wind. This has been frequently used in India.

3.East-West layout

Solar plants in the northern hemisphere are typically mounted facing south in the direction of the Sun. However, locations within the tropical zone do not always have the sun towards the south. L&T has experimented with East-West layout for panels in such locations and claims increased energy output. There are only a few such installations in India.

4.Diesel substitution

Diesel for power generation is a problem unique to India and several other developing countries. The need to maximise diesel savings from solar with has given rise to several solutions, such as special inverters that can control multiple diesel generators, and software solutions that can manage multiple solar inverters and diesel generators based on load. This solution is being increasingly adopted in India.

5.Critical load support

By isolating critical loads through a dedicated electrical feeder, a solar power plant with battery backup can ensure that the critical load is always supported, and no disruption of production is experienced despite unscheduled load shedding. This solution is being increasingly adopted in India.


Building Integrated Photovoltaics can be integrated such that it blends with the surrounding materials and is aesthetically pleasing. Normal solar installations are noticeable and many homeowners are turned off by the fact that it ruins the buildings aesthetics. BIPVs can be in the form of Solar Shingles or coloured panels or directly integrated Solar panels (they function as the roof itself without other mounting structures).

This technology has been commercialised, but is hampered by poor efficiency and high cost.

7.Concentrating Solar PV

Mirrors and Lenses can be utilized to increase the power output of solar panels installed. This technology has been commercialised but the weight of the installation makes it unsuitable for most rooftop applications.


The Powerwall, developed by Tesla Energy, is a lithium-ion battery pack that automates storage and discharge of solar power to take advantage of time-of-day pricing for electricity consumers. Powerwalls will be delivered to customers later this year, which is when the effectiveness of the solution can be judged.

9.Wind- Hybrid System

A small hybrid electric system that combines wind and solar technologies can offer several advantages over either single system. Because the peak operating times for wind and solar systems occur at different times of the day and year, hybrid systems are more likely to produce power when you need it. Many hybrid systems are stand-alone systems, which operate “off-grid”– not connected to an electricity distribution system. For the times when neither the wind nor the solar system are producing, most hybrid systems provide power through batteries and/or an engine generator powered by conventional fuels, such as diesel. If the batteries run low, the engine generator can provide power and recharge the batteries.

10.Solar Smart Grids

A smart grid is a system that is adaptive, interactive, secured, supports bi-directional energy flow and has no geographical or organizational boundaries. The benefits of smart grid can be enhanced through the integration of non-conventional energy sources like Solar, Wind and Biomass power plants. Solar power takes the prominent position among all other sources due to its continuous availability and cost effectiveness. Further the Smart Grid technology will open up more opportunities for solar power by providing a new energy value chain, linking renewable and conventional power generation to reduce CO2 emission, and enhance utilization through reliable operation.

The presence of Smart Grid will help to streamline the distributed solar power generation using rooftop solar arrays to feed electricity into the grid during daylight in order to meet the peak demand.

Commercial Innovations

1.Build Own Operate (Transfer) – BOO(T)

This innovative business model allows energy consumers to have a solar plant on their rooftop, but instead of paying for the entire plant upfront, they only pay for the energy generated by the plant on a per-unit basis by signing a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

The vendor who provides the plant Builds, Owns, and Operates the plant for the consumer. A variation on the model allows the plant to be transferred to the consumer after a period of time.  As the ownership of the plant remains with the vendor, the energy consumer cannot claim depreciation on the plant.

BOO(T) vendors typically require the consumer to maintain a credit rating or bank guarantee to avail the facility, and usually do not offer the solution for residential rooftops.

2.Community Owned Solar

Public buildings such as schools, leisure and community centres can be used to host solar technology, on a community basis. This will deliver significant environmental and social benefits. The energy generated by the installations will help to make future cost savings while reducing the capital’s carbon emissions. Buildings that are chosen to participate will benefit from cheaper electricity from the solar panels, resulting in substantial savings. Any surplus energy can be sold to the National Grid and profits made by the project will be reinvested locally through a newly-created Community Benefit Fund.

The panels will also be a useful resource for educational projects to help engage pupils with environmental themes such as renewable energy. Each device will come with a real-time display of electricity generation which will be displayed on the buildings and accessible to pupils online.

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India Renewable Energy Expert