The Indian state of Gujarat has created enough green energy for tens of thousands of city-dwellers by teaming up with utility companies to instal solar panels on people’s rooftops. The scheme, which avoids the high cost of ground space, provides enough clean energy for around 19,000 people, has reduced greenhouse gas emissions and is being considered for replication across the country.
Results & Impact
The project produces enough clean energy for 19,000 people in the cities of Gandhinagar, the state capital, and Vadodara. In the latter, greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to have been reduced by around six thousand tonnes annually
The state of Gujarat, the International Finance Corporation, Gujarat Energy Research and Management Institute, Gujarat Power Corporation Limited, Gujarat Energy Development Agency, the Energy and Petrochemicals Department, Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission, Azure Power and SunEdison, Madhav Solar Private Limited
In the partnership, the state and private property owners make their rooftops available to be fitted with solar panels – ground space is one of the most expensive parts of setting up a solar farm. These roof-owners are paid a small sum for each unit of electricity by the energy companies involved, who are themselves paid by the state for each unit fed into the grid.
Cost & Value
Across the two cities, some $20 million in private investment was needed
Running since 2010
One of the challenges involved persuading the energy companies there were enough sites viable for solar panel installation. The International Finance Corporation navigated this by providing satellite imagery showing availability, and highlighting the most attractive sites
Gujarat intends to replicate the program in its other cities, while the state of Odisha and other cities, including Delhi, have been considering whether they can adopt it
A groundbreaking project to enhance access to clean energy for urban households in Gujarat has seen two cities rent out public and private rooftops to generate solar energy. The project allows utility companies to avoid the high cost of ground space – one of the costliest elements of a solar farm – and has provided enough clean energy for some 19,000 people.
Informally known as “Rent a roof”, the project was launched in 2010, one year after Gujarat, a state of 80 million people, became the first state in India to announce a solar policy which included ambitious generation goals. The strategy has made significant progress – Gujarat’s public and private sector now produce around 890MW of solar power, and the state plans to increase capacity by an additional 500MW by the end of 2017.
“Rent a roof” was launched in the state capital of Gandhinagar when two energy firms, Azure Power and SunEdison, were each awarded 25-year concessions to install solar photovoltaic panels on the rooftops of public and private buildings and connect them to the state grid. The companies lease the rooftop space and pay the owners $0.05 per unit of energy produced. The companies, in return, receive $0.18 from the state government for every unit of energy they feed into the grid.
All types of buildings are included in the solar project, including state government buildings, libraries, government residential spaces, commercial buildings, private housing and apartment blocks. One clever use of technology saw the International Finance Corporation, which provided both technical and legal advice, source satellite images of rooftops across the city. The data was made available to potential investors to demonstrate the availability of suitable rooftop space, and identify the most attractive sites.
The solar panels and the installation processes have also had to meet certain criteria. The panels have to occupy minimal space and should be easily maintained and replaced. They should also be able to withstand wind speeds of up to 200 kmph and be fitted with proper drainage. Public interest in the project was generated with a website where project-related information was made available for public consumption. Press releases were also disseminated to local newspapers.
The project was then replicated in the Gujurati city of Vadodara, a city of 2 million people, where a company called Madhav Solar Private Limited won a 25-year contract for a similar model. Annual greenhouse gas emissions in Vadodara are thought to have been reduced by 6,000 metric tons. Many of the obstacles, such as the need to persuade investors that there was sufficient roof space, or that the model would work, had already been worked out in Gandhinagar, and the Vadodara project ran much more quickly.
Gujarat is currently considering replicating its solar energy project in all its major cities and the Gujarat Energy Research and Management Institute has announced it will support the state of Odisha with its own rooftop solar initiatives.
(Picture: Flickr/United Nations Photo)