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October - 2016 - issue > CEO Insights

Making Rooftop Solar Affordable & Accessible

Vikram Dileepan, Founder & CEO, Solar Town
Sunday, November 6, 2016
Vikram Dileepan, Founder & CEO, Solar Town
Headquartered in Chennai, the entity is a pioneer in India's solar industry specializing in the sale, lease and installation of solar rooftop systems for residential, commercial and industrial customers

The Indian government has established a target of 40 GW in solar rooftop installations by 2022. Given the inherent power problems in India, rooftop solar seems to be an ideal solution to increase the energy generation mix from renewables, take advantage of plentiful rooftop space and empower customers to take control of their energy generation.

A solar rooftop installation can produce enough energy to cover 100 percent of a commercial, industrial and residential building's energy consumption. A 5 kW to 10 kW solar PV rooftop installations can cover 100 percent of energy consumption for most small businesses or homes in India. However, because solar has historically required a substantial upfront cost, it has remained out of reach for much of India's population, with only the largest companies able to front the capital expenses required for a solar installation. Today, most small businesses and larger residential consumers can benefit from the long-term cost savings of solar energy and there are new programs that make solar systems more accessible by leasing the system for up to 25 years with no money down.

With a lease arrangement, it is possible to install a solar system that covers all of a consumer's electricity generation without incurring any upfront cost. For example, SolarTown Energy Solutions offers a program that allows customers to install a solar rooftop solution for a 15 to 25-year fixed monthly lease option at a fixed cost that is lower than power distribution company (discom) rates. The program is one of the first that offers a lease option for solar rooftop installations smaller than 100 kW, making solar affordable and accessible to small businesses and individual homeowners, a segment that was hitherto overlooked.

Recently, the historic Bombay Presidency Radio Club, one of Mumbai's oldest clubs, became the first building with a net-metered solar installation in the city. The Radio Club entered into a no upfront cost, 25-year lease agreement with SolarTown at a rate that is 35 to 40 percent lower than their utility tariff. The 41 kW rooftop systems will offset 20 percent of the Radio Club's energy consumption from the grid and more than 1,189 tons of carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the solar installation. The Radio Club is estimated to save more than Rs.8, 50,000 annually from its new solar system. The net-metered installation allows the club to sell its excess electricity generation back to the grid.


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