GURGAON

Rooftop solar takes clean energy to the next level

India's drive for clean energy is forging ahead with the support of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF). Through its Clean Technology Fund, CIF is helping to kick-start the solar rooftop market. In partnership with the World Bank, CIF is investing 125 million in the Grid Connected Rooftop Solar Program.

As director of business development for Cleantech Solar, one of India’s fastest-growing rooftop photovoltaic (PV) companies, Anuvrat Joshi is passionate about solar energy. “It’s what makes us get up in the morning and go to work,” he said.

His enthusiasm is understandable. Last year, India increased solar capacity by nearly 10 GW, a bigger uptake than in any other country except China.

In less than a year, CIF's program has achieved commercial financing of solar rooftop projects generating 500 MW, equal to that produced over the past 5 years combined. This is a potential tipping point in the rooftop solar market, which currently stands at around 1 GW. India is determined to produce 100 GW of solar power by 2022 and experts predict that around 40% of this goal can be met through rooftop solar PV.

Occupying roof space on residential and commercial properties, rooftop solar PV has the potential to provide energy while decreasing dependence on grid power and diesel generators. “You’re actually changing empty real estate – the roof, which is getting baked under the sun – into cheaper power produced at source,” Joshi said.

The Rapidmetro rail system in Gurgaon, a city outside of New Delhi that ranks among India's fastest-growing urban areas, is one of many institutions reaping the benefits of this promising technology. Rapidmetro is a vital public service, connecting residential and commercial areas over a transport network set to expand to 300 kilometers next year.

As part of the Grid Connected Rooftop Solar Program, Rapidmetro added rooftop solar panels to render its energy use more efficient and sustainable. During peak hours, solar meets up to 15% of its energy needs.

According to a recent report CIF co-authored with PricewaterhouseCoopers, innovative and low-cost financing – such as that CIF is providing in support of India’s rooftop solar PV sector – is stimulating solar development and removing barriers to further investment in this country's clean energy ambitions.

The research shows that CIF and partner financing could help develop 1,911 MW of rooftop solar capacity, thus saving an estimated 1,757,737 tons in CO2 emissions and creating nearly 50,000 jobs.

Already, CIF financing has enabled Cleantech Solar to carry out three to four times more projects than before. “This has been a game-changer,” said Joshi.

“We have discovered our internal combustion engine,” he added, likening solar rooftop PV to the nineteenth century invention that changed the face of modern industry. “We have discovered a cheaper, better form of energy.”

Benefits

Improved institutional capacity of banks to finance clean energy projects

Mainstreamed lending for grid-connected rooftop solar

Reduction of CO2 emissions

“We have discovered a better, cheaper form of energy!”

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