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Rooftop solar charges up electric vehicle boom in India's smaller cities

By Sohini Das & Shine Jacob
February 12, 2024 14:15 IST
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The push given to rooftop solar installation in the Interim Budget ties in with its high rate of adoption in Tier-II and -III cities of India.

If original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the automobile industry, government, and the solar sector are to be believed, in cities of Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Kerala, 45-50 per cent of electric-vehicle (EV) users are employing rooftop power to charge their vehicles.

This is compared to the national average of 25 per cent, say industry sources.

And the Interim Budget is going to be a catalyst in this transition. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced 10 million households would get up to 300 units of free electricity every month under the Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana, with an outlay of Rs 10,000 crore.


A report by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water says India has installed 11 Gw of rooftop solar capacity.

Of that, only 2.7 Gw is in the residential sector.

“Gujarat and Rajasthan are significant states in terms of EV adoption.

"These are value-conscious customers and they understand unit economics,” said Shailesh Chandra, managing director, Tata Motors Passenger Vehicles Ltd & Tata Passenger Electric Mobility Ltd (TPEML).

“These two states have realised it early.

"Similarly in Kerala, solar adoption is very high.

"The renewable mix needs to increase in EV-charging infrastructure,” he added.

“The new thinking that is emerging is that around 95 per cent of the time EV charging should be done through renewable energy.

"Home-charging is used for the 125,000 EVs we have sold.

"Fast-charging is not used as much. Use of public chargers is not very high.

"Home-charging done through solar roof-tops can aid in this transformation of charging an EV through renewable energy,” Chandra added.

Take Kerala, the state that has recorded the highest compound growth of 15 per cent in solar rooftop installations in the third quarter this financial year over the same time last year.

According to Mercom India Research, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Kerala contributed around 81 per cent of solar capacity addition during the quarter.

“Our aim is to have 10 million houses with solar rooftops.

"We are also pushing for DC-charging for EVs, so that the penetration of EVs increases,” said K R Jyothilal, additional chief secretary (power department), Kerala.

The state had targeted solar rooftop installation of 1,220 Mw by 2030 and has achieved 920 Mw, according to him.

This is a trend in Tier-II and -III cities in other parts of the country too.

According to Tata Motors, a larger market is developing in those.

Around 40 per cent of demand for the Nexon was from Tier-I cities when launched, and now it has come down to 25 per cent.

Similarly, for the Tiago 20 per cent of sales come from Tier-I cities.

The bulge is happening in Tier-II and -III cities where one can go for a solar rooftop.

“Solar rooftop projects became widely accepted in the recent past due to a substantial reduction in cost, a good renewable energy policy of the government, benefits of interest subsidy, lowest interest rates offered by financial institutions, benefits of accelerated depreciation, and an increasing cost of the electricity generated from conventional source of energy,” said Deep Bhojani, managing director of Ahmedabad-based Enerzytech Industries, a channel partner for Tata Power.

In Rajasthan, the government is giving subsidies of Rs 1.17 lakh per Kw for residential rooftop projects above 10 Kw and this effectively brings down the cost for the customer to Rs 2-2.5 lakh, which he can use for a life-time supply of solar.

Ashok Sharma of MS Solar Private Ltd, part of a rooftop solar panel installation company that works in Rajasthan, said with the government subsidy scheme now, several house owners were installing roof-top solar panels.

As for residential units, more than 35 per cent of his customers have asked for additional capacity to ensure they can charge their electric vehicles.

In Kerala too, subsidy is considered a major boost.

“We are noticing this trend of having 40-45 per cent of EVs being charged through rooftop solar.

"A major reason for this is awareness among people.

"The government is also giving subsidies of up to 40 per cent,” said Neeraj Ramachandran of Sunsenz Solar by Moopens Energy Solutions, a solar rooftop dealer in Kochi.

Photograph: Reuters

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Sohini Das & Shine Jacob
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