It is quite possible that solar power makes economic sense for your business or factory, but you do not have enough rooftop area to install solar panels.

In a few fortunate cases, a company might have extra land within its premises where it can install a ground mounted solar power plant. Such a power plant can be considered similar to a rooftop solar power plant for all operational purposes.

But let us look at a more likely scenario: You do not have much space on your rooftop or factory premises to install a large enough solar power plant. What are your options?

Consider the celebrated case of the Cochin International Airport which in 2015 became the first airport in the world to be fully powered by solar installed on their premised. This was possible because the entire 12 MW solar power plant was erected on ground in the 45 acres available in their cargo facility.

In this scenario, is it possible to have solar power plants in spite of having little or no rooftop area for solar panels?

Yes it is.

This is possible in two ways:

  • OPTION 1 – Have your solar power plant implemented elsewhere (also called Captive Offsite)
  • OPTION 2 – Procure solar power from someone who runs a solar power plant elsewhere (also called as Open Access Power Procurement or Private Power Procurement).

In both the above options, the solar power plant is implemented outside your premises, usually in areas where cheap land is available in plenty, and the power generated is “wheeled” (transported through the grid) to your factory or office.

In OPTION 1, you own such an offsite solar power plant. In OPTION 2, you simply buy solar power from a third party investor who owns such a solar power plant.

Now, you might ask: If I can put up a large solar power plant where land is cheap and “wheel” as much power as I want to, why should I bother putting up a small rooftop solar power plant on my premises?

Good question.

The main advantage that rooftop solar power plants provides you is a high degree of control over your solar power costs for 25 long years. You have a lesser degree of control with offsite solar plants.

You see, when putting up a solar power plant outside your premises, to “wheel” the power to your premises, you use the electricity grid owned by the government.

Such use implies that you have to pay a “wheeling” tariff to the utility that owns the grid, as well as pay any other duties and charges they wish to add – and there is a good list of such items! Such costs vary from state to state, vary from time to time, and could increase the cost of solar power by over 50%!

Such dependencies, additional costs and exposure to uncertainties in regulations are not present for a rooftop solar power plant.

So, while having offsite solar power plants do present some disadvantages compared to rooftop solar power plants, the scalability of the former is its main strength, and hence can be considered as a viable avenue for commercial and industrial establishments.


Stuff to Remember

Those who do not have any or sufficient rooftop space can still use solar power by having the solar power plants installed offsite.