Cloud over rooftop solar panels in Bengaluru

Cloud over rooftop solar panels in Bengaluru

Rooftop solar panel installations in the city have seen a flat growth in the past five years. 

Bescom records show that only 1,744 rooftop solar panels were installed from 2014 until February 2019, generating a mere 100.6 MW of electrical power. “This is far lower than expected. We have aimed to generate 2,400 MW between 2014 and 2022. But till now, not even half the target has been achieved,” a Bescom official said. “There have been just 400 applications since last November.” 

Bescom records further show that government buildings had the fewest installations at 48, followed by commercial structures (216). The numbers for residential buildings aren’t encouraging either, according to officials. 

The biggest hindrance is the high installation cost although it has dropped from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 75,000 per 1 kW. A household would need at least 3 kW which will cost Rs 2.5 lakh in installation,” the official said. 

Consumers are also not enthused by the fact that unlike other states, Karnataka is not giving them any subsidy. The third turn-off is that households can no longer sell the excess solar power to the grid. The new solar policy states that consumers should generate solar energy only for self-consumption. 

The fourth concern is that high-rises will eventually engulf low-rise buildings, blocking sunshine. Many people also believe that solar panels will be degraded after five years, making them useless. 

A worried Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (Bescom) is now waiting for the Central government to implement its cabinet decision of giving 40% subsidy on the installation of rooftop solar panels. 

The Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited will be made the nodal agency for the disbursal of the subsidy. The official hopes the installation cost will drop from Rs 75,000 to Rs 30,000 per kW, and a 3 kW panel will cost less than Rs 1 lakh.