A few weeks back there were a number of posts from the mainstream media in India which claimed Gujarat to be the leading state in terms of rooftop solar installations. The excitement for the news on social media was visible from the enthusiastic shares by supporters of both the state and the solar sector.
But is Gujarat really the leading rooftop solar installations in India? The answer to that question would be a short no. Not all of the data is available at a single place.
However, the fans rooting for the state shouldn’t feel bad as Gujarat is definitely high up among the top performing states. But the question remains. If not Gujarat, then which Indian state is leading the rooftop solar race? Keep reading to find out more.
How it all started
Mr. Parimal Nathwani, Member of Parliament from the state of Jharkhand, had raised a question in the Rajya Sabha (Upper house of the Indian Parliament) about the status of the rooftop solar installations in the country and other related details. To this, Mr R K Singh, the Minister for Power & New and Renewable Energy, provided a detailed reply.
In response to my query in #RajyaSabha, @RajKSinghIndia of @mnreindia stated that #Gujarat leads the country in rooftop #Solar #power installation with capacity of 261.97 MW. This is indeed praiseworthy & I hope other states replicate this.#sustainabilityhttps://t.co/1hrg51p7r3 pic.twitter.com/B15LcLqpb9
— Parimal Nathwani (@mpparimal) July 24, 2019
A PDF of the questions and answers is available here.
As per the information shared by the minister, a total of 1700 MW has been installed in India until 18 July 2019. This includes 918.42 MW of subsidized system with the remaining capacity added without any government aid.
If we rely on this data alone, then Gujarat is the clear leader with a rooftop solar capacity of 261.97 MW. Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu follow behind at 198.52 MW and 151.62 MW, respectively.
Now here is the thing you need to understand.
With the removal of rooftop solar subsidies from many sectors (subsidy is available only for the residential sector in India) and given the blazing speed at which the solar sector has been accelerating, it seems rooftop solar systems installation data has been difficult to keep a tab on.
Analyzing the data from MNRE
For example, if we refer to the website of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), the data appears to be a bit different. In fact, the numbers are on the higher side than what was shared by Singh. Even though they are reported on an earlier date!
The currently visible data (screen-shot above) reported until 30 June, 2019, estimates the total installed rooftop solar capacity as 2050.29 MW.
A state-wise break up of the installed capacity data (reported on 10 July 2019), sort of changes the position of leading states. As per the spreadsheet, the leading states are Gujarat, Karnataka, and Maharashtra, with 378.83 MW, 201.65 MW, and 196.55 MW, respectively. Tamil Nadu, however, moves to the fifth spot after Rajasthan.
This is not all. There are some more factors to be considered.
The numbers captured by MNRE are quite accurate for the subsidized systems. That’s because MNRE governs the subsidy disbursal from the central government.
The non-subsidized installations data, however, it seems are not collected as thoroughly. There are perhaps two inter-related reasons for this.
As such, there is no framework in place to directly collect rooftop solar installation data across the country. And I am not even talking of off-grid projects! The non-subsidized projects don’t really have an incentive to get registered into MNRE database.
A large number of the systems, especially installed by the businesses would not have made it to the official count as they don’t get any subsidy. The distribution utility companies though have the data on grid-connected rooftop solar system with them.
Considering that with the new SRISTI scheme MNRE wants the Discoms to take charge of the rooftop program, maybe the availability and reporting of such data will improve in the future.
Are There Any Other Data Sources?
One of the data sources commonly followed in the industry is the “India Solar rooftop map report” which is released by Bridge to India on a quarterly basis.
These reports basically capture data from the installers and tracks the progress in commercial, industrial, and public sectors (Side note: The map legend in the June 2019 report talks about residential sector as well but a state-wise data breakup has not been shown).
If we look at the numbers from Bridge to India, they tell a different story.
Taking into account the installations across businesses which are probably not captured accurately by MNRE, Maharashtra comes out as the top performer. For commercial and industrial sectors alone, the state boasts of a total installed capacity of 578 MW. The states trailing the pole position are Rajasthan at 352 MW, Tamil Nadu at 293 MW, and Gujarat at 264 MW.
Given the high electricity prices in Maharashtra, it is not really surprising to see rooftop solar going like hot cakes with the commercial and industrial organizations present there.
If we combine the installation data from Bridge to India with the either of the subsidized systems capacity as available either from the Minister’s statement or from MNRE (both are different mind you), Maharashtra further widens the gap from the runner-up to maintain its leading position.
But this is where it gets interesting. In terms of the combined capacity, Gujarat jumps up to the second spot in the total installed capacity rankings.
So if we look at the overall data, it is Maharashtra which is leading the rooftop solar installations race for now.
Nevertheless, when it comes to residential rooftop solar installations, Gujarat is possibly the leading state as residential systems form the major chunk of the subsidized rooftop solar installations. Recently, the state had allocated funds in its budget to subsidize the installation of over 200,000 residential systems. This would be in addition to any capacity allocations by the MNRE. Gujarat’s own plans are expected to add 600 MW rooftop solar capacity.