OIES Podcast – Evolving Lessons from India’s Rooftop Solar Initiative
In this podcast David Ledesma talks to Mohua Mukherjee about her recent paper titled “India’s Ongoing Solar Rooftop Journey from 2017-2022”. The discussion points out the striking contrast in terms of progress in India’s utility scale solar performance, which is far ahead of expectations, and its rooftop solar performance which is far behind the initial targets. India is the first developing country to attempt a rooftop program at scale—the success stories are mainly from Germany, Australia and the US, and these programs are much older than India’s, which started in 2017. However, the challenges of rooftop solar in India have emerged almost immediately and the government is currently engaged in a course-correction, which is referred to as Phase 2. Phase 2 seeks to be inclusive of the interests of distribution companies as well as residential customers. Residential customers were largely left out of Phase 1, despite receiving support from the government in the form of a 40% capital subsidy on their rooftop systems. Neither commercial lenders nor rooftop installers were interested in residential customers when there were much better prospects in the commercial and industrial category. Incentives have been changed in the Indian rooftop space. Net metering has all but disappeared under pressure from state distribution companies, and the capital subsidy is now restricted only to very small systems of up to 10kW, so that mainly residential users can benefit. India’s experiences with the rooftop sector are likely to be repeated in many developing countries and therefore India’s business models and experiments are a useful learning tool for other observers who will be considering the introduction of rooftop programs at scale to meet their NDCs.