Rooftop solar market resilient but for how long?

26 April 2021 |

BRIDGE TO INDIA’s latest data compilation exercise for rooftop solar suggests that India installed 1,352 MW capacity in 2020, down 13.5% YOY. Total installed capacity is estimated to have reached 6,792 MW by December 2020. In a COVID-afflicted year with two months of severe lockdown, these are encouraging numbers.  

  • Residential market bucked the downward trend with growth of 100% over previous year;
  • The larger developers are becoming more conservative in face of weak credit outlook and policy uncertainty;
  • After declining for last two years, 2021 again looks like a challenging year due to COVID surge and strong DISCOM resistance to net metering;

Market activity seems to have picked up soon after lockdown ended in June 2020. Maharashtra was again the leading state with 147 MW of installed capacity in the year, nearly double the number for Karnataka, the runner up state. But notably, installations were down significantly in most large states including Maharashtra (down 44% YOY), Madhya Pradesh (63%), Rajasthan (58%), Andhra Pradesh (44%) and Tamil Nadu (36%). Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh bucked the trend with lower falls (16% and 26% respectively) while West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and many smaller states actually grew on an YOY basis.

Despite the highest financial savings potential from rooftop solar, C&I market volume was down 30% YOY. Residential segment provided hope with a heartening annual growth of 100%. MNRE’s residential rooftop solar subsidy scheme, with 16 states empanelling vendors so far, is making slow but steady progress with Gujarat and Kerala in the lead.

Figure: New installations by consumer segment, MW

Source: BRIDGE TO INDIA research

Share of OPEX model fell to 27%, down from 34% in 2019 and 36% in 2018. Discussions with industry players suggest strong continuing consumer preference for OPEX model. The slowdown seems a function of other factors including bigger developers adopting a more conservative stance on client rating, delays in PPA closures and push back against net metering in some states.

As usual, there was major churn in player rankings across the value chain. In project development category, Fourth Partner swapped places with Cleantech Solar to occupy top slot. Amplus retained third position, while ReNew and Tata Power moved up. In EPC category, Tata Power, Fourth Partner and Mahindra retained top three ranks but there were major changes further down. Meanwhile, in the inverter market, the Chinese quartet of Growatt, Solis, GoodWe and Sungrow consolidated their stranglehold over the market with over 75% share including OEM supplies.

2020 was the second successive year of market slowdown. Prospects for 2021 remain distinctly uncertain with COVID flaring across the country and mini-lockdowns currently in many states. Continuing DISCOM resistance to net metering and proposed levy of grid charges (Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka) are also expected to slow down the market.

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