17 Aug 2015 16:24 IST

Builders not keen to tap the sun for residential projects

Stick to minimum generation requirements for street lighting, public spaces

Real estate developers are not keen on solar power for residential housing projects due to less space, lack of aesthetic appeal and cheaper alternatives. For now, builders are not going beyond the minimum generation requirements as per law, for lighting public spaces and street lights.

David Walker, Managing Director, SARE Homes, said, “Solar panels need a lot of space. In residential projects, water tankers, air conditioners etc also require space on the rooftop. As for now, we are sticking to the minimum requirements as per law for using solar power.”

Builders need to install 10kW for 0.5-1 acre projects, 20 kW for 1-2 acre, 30 kW for 2-5 acre, and 40 kW for projects over 5 acres, he said.

Cost is a deterrent too. The average cost of developing a 1 kilowatt rooftop solar power system would cost ₹1-1.5 lakh. Setting up a 40 kW system would cost anywhere between ₹ 40-45 lakh.

Besides installation cost, power tariffs for residential users remain lower than commercial power tariffs. This according to solar power developers is one of the reasons behind the slow adoption of rooftop solar in the residential space.

In a recent interaction with BusinessLine, Kushagra Nandan and Adarsh Das, Co-Founders of SunSource Energy, said residential rooftop solar projects are expected to come into the mainstream only after 3-4 years. The firm already has a number of rooftop solar installations for commercial spaces.

“While solar prices are coming down, commercial businesses will go in for whichever form of energy is cheaper,” Shailesh Pathak, Executive Director at Bhartiya Group added.

For residential projects, the time of consumption often proves to be a deterrent. “If you use it instantly, it is cheap. But you need a battery if you wish to consume it later, due to which the cost doubles. Solar power is generated during the day, when most step outside to work. Residential projects need power at night as well,” Walker added.

Some builders are also keen to keep in mind the aesthetic appeal of the housing project as well. Prashant Tiwari, Chairman, Prateek Group, said, “We are still working on the financial implications of installing solar power and the space that the installation will occupy. We are in consultation with the architects who will advise us on the best place/places in the project where it can be installed without hampering the look of the project.”

The slow adoption rate of rooftop solar power in the residential segment may also lead the Government to revise its targets for the segment.

Out of the total target of 100,000 megawatt of solar power capacity by 2022, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy expects 40,000 megawatt to come from rooftop solar.

"Every country in the world has around 30-40 per cent rooftop solar installation so we can also do it. But, there can be delay in this so we will reassess the rooftop part because we are much better in the land-based solar part," said Upendra Tripathi, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

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