“Solar Partners” Model: Can Unlock The Residential Rooftop Segment

In recent years, India’s commercial and industrial sectors have witnessed the rising uptake of rooftop solar installations.

One of the reasons for this is the adoption of the RESCO (Renewable Energy Service Company)-based model, wherein consumers can avail solar electricity at tariffs lower than the grid tariffs without any upfront capital expenditure.

Rooftop solar developers have successfully implemented this model in high-rise buildings as well where citizens have welcomed low upfront costs.

However, developers have not been able to scale up rooftop solar further, especially among communities living in low-rise buildings or individual houses.

Their major concerns include the smaller installation size of rooftop solar systems for individual consumers and the associated high risk of a payment default.

Another limitation of the RESCO model is the potential risk to bottom lines that declining solar power costs could cause. As the solar tariff declines, existing consumers could demand solar power at prevailing market rates.

This could add to the uncertainty of the contract that already plagues the rooftop solar businesses.

Recently, the Council on Energy, Environment, and Water (CEEW), in partnership with BSES Yamuna (BYPL),  developed a ‘solar partners’ model, on lines of the demand and supply aggregation model of ride-on-demand services like Uber.

There are three main components in Uber’s model: demand and supply aggregator (Uber), car owners, and consumers (riders).

In the solar partners model, the discom plays the role of the aggregator by creating a platform for residential consumers to subscribe to solar electricity.

Solar companies would own the solar electricity generating asset, a rooftop solar PV system, and sign a power purchase agreement with the discom.

This would be similar to taking an Uber ride to a destination without owning a car. This model would make rooftop solar accessible to all residential consumers, including those living in rented properties, by eliminating the need to have exclusive roof access to generate solar power.

Reference- Business World, BSES Yamuna website