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Will India Meet Revised Solar Rooftop Deadline by 2026? India missed the 100 GW solar power generation 2022 target as it only touched 63.3 GW, now experts are not sure if the new deadline of March 2026 for rooftop solar energy will be met despite a recent incentives and policy measures.

By Priyanka Tanwer

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Photo Curtesy: Freepik

Over the past decade, India's solar energy capacity has evolved significantly and the country is now ranked 4th in solar capacity globally. From 2.6 GW in 2014 to 74.4 GW at the beginning of 2024, the installed solar capacity has increased 30 times. However, one part of India's solar energy ambition still falls considerably short – rooftop power generation.

In 2015, the country was pushing its solar power generation target from 22 gigawatts (GW) to 100 GW by 2022; but India missed the target as it only touched 63.3 GW. Out of this 100 GW of power, 40 GW was supposed to be from solar panels installed on rooftops but till 2023, it hit only 11 GW, of which only 2.7 GW are in residential units and the rest in commercial or industrial spaces.

Experts are not sure if the new deadline of March 2026 for rooftop solar energy will be met despite a recent incentives and policy measures.

According to Ali Imran Naqvi, CEO, Gensol Engineering Ltd, the substantial subsidies allocated to coal-fired electricity significantly distort the energy market by keeping retail electricity prices artificially low. This creates an uneven playing field for renewable energy sources like rooftop solar, which, even with the average 30 per cent subsidy provided under PM Kusum Yojana, struggle to compete on price.

"The upfront cost of a rooftop system can be a barrier, especially for rural households with lower disposable incomes. Limited access to formal financial institutions and lack of credit facilities further restrict adoption," Naqvi added.

According to a report by Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) in 2022 found that despite subsidies, the upfront cost of a 3 KW rooftop system in India can be a barrier in rural areas.

Recently launched PM Surya Ghar Muft Bijlee Yojana provides a subsidy of 60 per cent of the solar unit cost for systems up to 2 kW capacity. The approximate price of a 2 KW solar system in India is in the range INR 1,40,000 to INR 2,60,000.

Raman Bhatia, Founder & Managing Director, Servotech Power Systems Ltd. seconded with Naqvi and said that coal subsidies artificially cheapen grid electricity, hindering the economic viability of rooftop solar and slowing down the transition to cleaner energy sources.

Not Just Affordability

It is not just affordability that is hindering the widespread adoption of solar rooftops in India, according to Gautam Mohanka, CEO, Gautam Solar, the country encounters several challenges including high upfront cost, access to easy financing options, and low awareness among others.

"High upfront cost, access to easy financing options, low awareness, challenges in grid connectivity like resistance to net metering, technical and maintenance challenges such as lack of skilled solar installers and suitability of rooftops, and bureaucratic issues are some of the factors due to which the adoption of rooftop solar in India has been lacking compared to utility-scale solar," Mohanka added.

Meanwhile, Bhatia says while solar panels promise long-term savings, the initial investment poses a significant barrier for rural households with limited disposable income. Therefore, subsidies and tailored financing options are essential to make solar energy accessible. Moreover, many rural regions suffer from unreliable or nonexistent grid infrastructure, limiting the benefits of rooftop solar as generated power cannot be fed back to the grid for net metering.

"The structural suitability of common rural roof types, such as thatched roofs, for solar panel installations poses a challenge, necessitating alternative mounting solutions or exploring ground-mounted options. Moreover, the perception of complex maintenance requirements can discourage rural households from embracing solar energy," he added.

Highlight the need of marketing campaign in the rural areas of the country, Manikkan S, Executive Director & CEO, Radiance Renewables said, "There is lack of understanding and knowledge of rooftop among consumers and I think marketing campaign by the companies, telling people the benefits of solar rooftop panels will help and discoms can also co-create a model with local entrepreneurs to drive this rooftop as it helps them to reduce the distribution losses."

Focus Areas

So, what are the factors that should be focused upon to achieve 40 GW target by 2026? According Mohanka, discoms should provide net metering to reduce solar panel installation time and expedite the overall process.

"Awareness campaigns to educate the public on the pressing need of solar power to offset the negative impacts of coal generated electricity, is also required. Moreover, sufficient capacity of domestic solar modules and other components, and skilled workforce is required to achieve record targets, for which capacity expansion and skill development are essential," he added.

Jitendra patil, MD, Sunlit Power Pvt Limited agrees with Mohanka and says that there should be attractive net metering policies that offer fair compensation for excess solar power fed back to the grid. "This incentivizes investment and reduces reliance on traditional electricity," he added.

He also calls out for affordable financing options through collaborations with banks and financial institutions.

Naqvi believes that moving from static subsidies to dynamic, performance-based incentives could greatly motivate increased solar energy production.

"Enhancing public awareness and training programmes can bridge the knowledge gap on solar benefits and subsidy or financing access. Kerala's Kudumbashree Mission highlights the impact of such initiatives," Naqvi said.

He further added that innovative approaches, such as rooftop solar leasing, where utility companies install and maintain systems at no upfront cost to consumers, could fast-track adoption, particularly for those concerned about initial expenses.

Showing concern about the different rooftops in India, Bhatia suggests that focus should be on promoting research and development in areas like building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) for efficient use of rooftop space, and explore cost-effective, lightweight mounting solutions suitable for different roof types.

"The rooftop market is slow to take off and it needs a lot of education and convincing, so the rules and regulations should be made easy so the installation can be done quickly," Manikkan said.

Priyanka Tanwer

Feature Writer

With eight years of experience covering various beats for the digital and print media, now covering electric vehicles and sustainability for Entrepreneur India, keeping a nose for innovation and new technology in this futuristic sector.     
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