Solar Energy Mumbai

Green, renewable, clean, abundant, unlimited – these are the words used to describe solar energy Mumbai. With such an introduction to any product, it would seem like a no-brainer to install a solar power plant on any rooftop. But reality seems to be making a different case for solar power. This article aims at addressing everything regarding solar energy in Mumbai.

Contents:

  1. What really is Solar Energy
  2. Why aren’t industrial and commercial establishments taking this up in Mumbai
  3. How does Solar Energy work
  4. The great Solar misconception
  5. Reason for this misconception
  6. Should I install solar now
  7. Moving forward, examples of solar energy projects in Mumbai
  8. Mumbai’s Solar Energy Achievements
  9. Perceived Barriers to installing Solar Energy in Mumbai
  10. The Rooftop
  11. Your Budget
  12. Solar Energy as an investment
  13. Solar Savings Account – Solar Energy Vs. Fixed Deposit
  14. Solar Energy Vs. Diesel Generators
  15. Solar Energy and Mumbai’s weather (Rain)
  16. Solar Hot Water
  17. Types of Solar Systems
  18. On-Grid Solar Systems – Who should choose it and how it works 24x7
  19. Off-Grid Solar System – What everybody thinks of when installing Solar
  20. Hybrid Solar Systems: On-Grid Solar System with Battery Backup– The best of both worlds
  21. Basic benefits and drawbacks with Solar
  22. More questions regarding solar panels
  23. Conclusion: Who should install a rooftop solar system

What really is Solar Energy

Solar has not been taken up by societies and companies in Mumbai yet even though Solar is absolutely the best investment economically and for the fastest returns it is recommended to be put on rooftops of societies and companies. The reason for this is that all the power produced by Solar, or the solar power station owned by the commercial owner, is used 100% by the building or business itself. The solar energy goes directly into the building, it has nothing to do with the grid.

This means the business is not buying energy from the grid at ₹11/kWh, rather it is saving itself from paying it but still providing energy to its business. This money goes directly to paying off the rooftop solar power plant and the payback can be as little as 2 years, noting that the system will last for 25 years on warranty!

Why aren’t industrial and commercial establishments taking this up in Mumbai

Solar energy in all countries of the world has been initially driven by the introduction of generous feed-in-tariffs. This means that Governments, at all levels sought to introduce Solar as an alternative green energy and to meet energy security, environmental policies and political driven outcomes to name a few, accroding to the Indian Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Database. These tariffs have created a perception that this is the only way that solar energy (or any renewable energy) is worthwhile to any customer. This is not unique to India. It has confused every international market that this company has been involved in.

How does Solar Energy work

What most understand, believe or perceive is that solar must be pumped back into the grid. Nothing is further from the truth, in fact it is totally the opposite. The reason you put on solar, YOUR VERY OWN POWER STATION, is to generate energy that you use. It is like putting a big (noiseless, non-polluting) generator on top of your house or building and it runs when you want energy.

That is what a solar installation does and it produces energy that is used 100% by the owner. Every piece of energy can be consumed by the owner, this means the building or business is not drawing energy from the grid while still going about its business. This way the cost of doing business is reduced making for more profits or reducing the cost of running equipment such as lifts or the pool pump or the air conditioner.

The Great Solar Misconception

The feed in tariffs are the great misleader. They were introduced to kick start the solar industry for a range of differing reasons, some real and some cynical. As they were the early market drivers, it is stuck in everyone’s mind and you are not alone. This is perception because as these feed-in-tariffs have been reduced the market in general has assumed that Government subsidies only made Solar economical. This is not restricted to India where the paid price for Solar into the grid has fallen over 50% in the latest round in May 2017. Read more here.

Reason for this Misconception

The subsidies were in place when solar panels and inverters were expensive and not so common. Now they are regular and common. The market prices have dropped and now stabilized.  There is no need for Governments to subsidize the prices. Sure, they will buy the power for reasons of security, environment, quantity or plain policy, but everywhere the price has dropped back to what they pay the big power stations.

What is relevant is how much power do you use? What is the right size of the power generation plant You would like to own to get the pay back in 2 years?

Should I install solar now

The cost of electricity is made up of many factors.  The first is obvious, generation.  This lies in the big power stations that provide base load.  These are fired by gas, coal, nuclear and hydro.  Then there is the cost of the retail, in other words the billing costs, the sending of bills, the maintenance of that system to ensure society and the economy in general can function. Then there is the biggest and most costly expense and that is the distribution.  Distribution is the poles and wires, sub stations, transformers you see on poles.  And guess what, they get hit by lightning, they get hit by trucks, they explode, they get blown over, possums short them, birds fly into them and people generally mess with the whole network. And the only way to solve this is to send out people in trucks to fix it.

The cost of trucks, fuel and labor is always rising and this factor, which represents about 50-60% of your power bill, will always keep rising driving up your energy costs. Your power station, once fitted and apart from major insurable mishap, will function with little or no maintenance for 25 years. Also, a valid question we always get at The Solar Man India is – if the cost of solar energy in the country and around the world is going down, then is it better for me to wait before I install solar? And the answer to that is a resounding No! while the cost to install your very own solar power station on your rooftop were decreasing at a dramatic rate, the prices have since stabilized and the losses incurred by waiting far outweigh the benefits you would receive if you installed solar today! Thus, waiting for a negligible price drop for solar energy in Mumbai would lose you more money than you would gain!

Moving Forward, examples of solar energy projects in Mumbai

There still seems to be some resistance by the general public towards installing solar power in Mumbai city. At The Solar Man India, we’ve spoken to hundreds if not thousands of Mumbaikars who are interested in solar energy. We’ve have found that biggest barrier to solar energy Mumbai, is information (or the lack thereof). The newness of the technology seems to be hurting the industry and the consumers themselves. Although the technology itself isn’t old, the Indian market is only now waking up to the benefits solar energy can have on their planet and their home. But do you know of anybody who has installed solar energy recently?

If you want to buy a car, an apartment or even invest in stocks, there are plenty of people who have gone through the process and (as is the case in our beloved city) would love to share their experience and advice with you on what to buy and whom to go to for the best deals. Unfortunately, this is not the case with solar. With the standard warranties of solar panels being 25 years, not many people have owned a solar system throughout its entire life cycle, let alone its warranty period.

The internet is filled with several articles about housing societies across Mumbai city who have installed solar energy, but is seems like only a rare few know about a neighbor or colleague who has installed solar panels on their rooftop. According to this article by The Times of India, “Nearly 60 housing societies and commercial buildings across Mumbai city are generating more than 1,400 units of green power a day.” This goes beyond the city of Mumbai as more than 400 establishments across the state of Maharashtra have set-up their own solar power plants to reduce the dependence of electricity generated by coal, accounting for more than 11,500 units of clean energy generated by Maharashtra state. And this is for good reason.

  1. Here is an example of a Mumbai society that Grace Co-operative Housing Society, Vasant Oscar, Mulund (West), switched to solar energy last month and will save Rs.5 lakh per annum in electricity bills, that’s a saving of Rs41,000 per month!
  2. This is an example of a society in Mahim that is saving 28,000 per month on their electricity bills. Our Lady of Vailankani Housing Society at Mary Nagar, Mumbai consists of 2 buildings, one with 112 apartments and the other with 48. They have installed solar panels on their rooftops in order to light up the common areas of the buildings.
  3. Here, an example of a Ghatkopar society saving 1.65 lakhs on their electricity bills, with solar energy. Shivshakti Heights, located near the Ghatkopar railway station, consists of one 15 storied building, housing 76 families. The 9.135 kilowatt system installed on their rooftop is saving the society a lot of money, which they are then able to use to maintain their society building.
  4. Another society in Andheri has adopted solar and is now saving Rs. 50,000/- on their electricity bills. Cliff Tower, another shining example of Mumbai societies taking up the initiative to make our city clean and green. Their 30-kilowatt rooftop solar power plant will light up the common areas, passage, terrace, compound lights, three elevators and five water pumps! Click here to read their story.

With such glaring examples of electricity savings with solar energy in Mumbai, it seems as though solar energy might actually be something you have been missing out on. Everybody seems to know what solar energy can do for them on a surface level, but what do we really know about this relatively new technology at hand?

This article aims at shedding some light on the potential for solar energy in Mumbai. But first, let’s go through some of Mumbai’s solar achievements and then look into perceived barriers for installing solar energy in the city.

Mumbai’s solar energy achievements

Cities and countries across the globe are adopting solar power to reduce their carbon footprint. Germany has so much energy in that on a bright and windy day in 2016 the government had to pay its residents to use electricity. Here is a link to the article.

The Indian government has also taken it up to install 100 Gigawatts of solar energy by the end of the year 2022. The Maharashtra government has taken up this challenge in a big way by introducing a scheme in which residential buildings can avail a subsidy. The subsidy that can be availed for rooftop solar project in Mumbai is 30% of the total cost of the project based on the total cost of the project up to a maximum of Rs. 18,000/-. The Solar Man India guides all of its residential clients in the filling out the documentation necessary to avail the government of Maharashtra’s subsidy for installation of a rooftop solar system. You can read more about subsidies here: (http://www.mnre.gov.in/)

The Government also has many schemes for the installation of rooftop solar power plants. The solar power tariff has reduced by more than 75% in some places to a record low of Rs.2.44 per unit (as in Bhadla), using the plug and play model. In the meanwhile, solar capacity has increased by 370% for India over the past 3 years. Read more about India’s largest renewable energy programme at their website. The Maharashtra government has announced that residential societies and educational, social and medical institutions in the city will be eligible for 30% subsidy for the installation of solar energy plants in Mumbai. This is to encourage the general public to tap this renewable source of energy in a big way. Although as discussed earlier, this does not make a huge change to the return on investment on the solar power plant it is incentive to start and a much-appreciated move on the governments behalf in championing the cause of a cleaner and greener Mumbai City.

The following are some of Mumbai city’s solar achievements present and future:

According to this article by The Times of India – Mumbai, a portion of power consumption of the administrative wing of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) building will be met through solar. Read more about this project here. India to be first in world to run all government ports on green energy. All of its 12 major domestic ports will soon switch to renewable energy in order to meet their demanding power requirements. In a move towards a cleaner India, the Government plans to install close to 200 megawatts of wind and solar power generation capacity at these ports by the end of 2019 according to this article by the Economic Times.

A follow-up to the aforementioned article and much closer to home is, the Mumbai Port Trust plans a solar unit to save on power costs. According to The Time of India – Mumbai, the city will start saving about 2 MW conventional coal power and nearly 3 MLD drinking water within next two years. Thanks to Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) that will save on buying conventional power worth Rs.4 crore by adopting energy efficient gadgets and setting up its own solar power. On a note closer to us Mumbaikars, cricket stadiums in Mumbai will be batting with solar power as well! In this article, it seems like many cricket stadiums across India and Mumbai will be adopting the KSCA’s move to go solar. The list of achievements for solar energy in Mumbai is on the rise and will continue to do so as the benefits of this powerful, sustainable technology becomes more apparent to the Government and the public alike!

Perceived barriers to installing solar energy in Mumbai

  1. The Rooftop

Who owns your Rooftop? Real estate prices in Mumbai city are soaring, along with the heat and consequently your electricity bills. Many customers call us with requests to install solar panels on their rooftop. Unfortunately, without owning a rooftop or an open space (such as open car park, open field etc.) there is no way to receive the benefits of solar as this technology requires energy from the sun’s rays. The biggest benefit of installing solar panels on your rooftop (apart from the obvious benefit of lifetime energy savings) is, the shade created will have a positive effect on the temperature of your home. With the weather in Mumbai becoming hotter by the day, the shade created by these panels being mounted on your rooftop will give the homes below much needed shade from the sun, while simultaneously harnessing its power to generate clean energy. These solar panels can also be used to create a canopy, turning your rooftop into another floor that can be used to enjoy the view from. They can also be used as shades over open car parks in park lots of housing societies or industrial/commercial establishments.

  1. Your Budget

Solar energy can save you a lot of money. For an average electricity bill of Rs.2000/- an Indian household can save Rs.6,00,000/- over the 25-year period that the solar panels are warrantied for. Beyond that any savings from the installation of these panels is basically a bonus. The downside to this is that, the upfront cost for solar energy in Mumbai has to be considered. What needs to be understood though, is that the prices of electricity will only continue to rise as the natural resources of oil and coal deplete around the world. This means that the savings mentioned above are conservative and will only increase over time. The hiccup of coming up with the initial expense of a rooftop solar system in Mumbai is far outweighed by the lifetime savings brought by the system itself. Solar Energy is an investment. It is a one-time investment for a lifetime. A much-forgotten aspect of Solar Energy in Mumbai city is the fact that solar energy is not only a boon to the environment but is also much better and more reliable source of investment than many regular investment options. Solar panels are NOT subject to market risks!

Solar Energy as an investment

Below is a short comparison between solar energy vs the current fixed deposit rates in Mumbai city (2017). If you are tired of paying your electricity bills and storing your cash in a fixed deposit account, solar energy may be more than a viable investment option for you!

Solar Savings Account – Solar Energy VS. Fixed Deposit Account

Fixed Deposit Account of Rs.5,00,000 calculated @ 9% (maximum for senior citizens) Returns over 5 years = Rs.2,25,000 Returns over 10 years = Rs.4,50,000 Returns over 25 years = Rs.11,25,000 Solar Savings Account of Rs.5,00,000 Savings over 5 years = Rs.2,56,000 (Excluding government subsidy of 30% if subsidy is included 4,06,000) Savings over 10 years = Rs.15,12,000 Savings over 25 years = Rs.37,80,000 Invest in a solar savings account with The Solar Man India and start saving today! From the numbers, we can conclude that; over a 5-year period (taking fixed deposit interest rates at the highest for senior citizens, and not including the 30% subsidy given by the government), an investment in solar power outperforms fixed deposit account by Rs. 26,000/-. Factor this in for a period of 10 years and solar power outperforms a fixed deposit investment by Rs.10,62,000/-.  When we consider that the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) provides a subsidy of 30% on the total cost of your solar system and the government of India provides 40% accelerated depreciation for industrial and commercial establishments, the return on investment improves drastically. The numbers speak for themselves. And this can be replicated for any size of investment over and over. In fact, as the size of the system goes up, the overall cost of the solar system per kilowatt comes down drastically. This can be achieved by the fact that solar panels bought in bulk always bring a discounted rate, hence increasing profit margins by a larger amount.

Solar Energy VS Diesel Generators

A lot of industrial areas in Mumbai city and on the outskirts, are facing power shortages. A good example of this being Vasai, many industries in this area are struggling to keep their manufacturing units operating at 100% and are in dire need of a sustained energy source. Installing solar panels for such types of situations is ideal as the energy generated from the sun can be stored in batteries and then used whenever there is a power outage (even in the middle of the night). Read more about the different types on solar power systems in the following paragraphs below (Off-Grid, On-Grid, Hybrid). Diesel Generators are also notorious for high maintenance costs with moving parts etc. whereas the only form of maintenance for a solar power system is to dust or wash the top of the panels with a cloth and a bucket of water.

Solar Energy and Mumbai’s weather (Rain)

A common question our sales representatives get is, does solar power work in the rain. And the answer to the question is quite simple. Yes, it does. Solar energy can be generated in both direct and indirect sunlight. Although solar panels are most effective in direct sunlight, they will still work even when the light is reflected or partially blocked out by rain clouds. In fact, the rain helps to keep your panels in peak operating condition by washing away any accumulated dust or debris. As mentioned above, this is the extent of maintenance for solar panels. Also, our Australian design team takes into account rainy days in the region along with your power consumption data while designing a system for you. This ensure that there is no shortage of power for you to use during the rainy season. If ever you do come across a power shortage due to increase in your power consumption patterns, then the addition of panels will do the job easily as solar power systems are extremely easy to scale.

Solar hot water – Can solar panels heat your water as well?

Once the free electricity bug catches on, there’s no stopping the number of requests to install solar hot water heaters on rooftops. However, we do not recommend this, as the installation not only takes up unnecessary space but the geyser also ends up going to waste. We inform our clients that the solar power plant installation will be designed by our Australian engineers in such a way that geyser usage is already taken into consideration during the design. Thus, with the installation of your very own solar power plant, there is absolutely no need to install a solar water heater. However, we have also got the odd request to convert a solar water heater into a solar energy generator. Unfortunately, we were unable to complete this request.

Types of Solar Systems On-Grid Solar System, Off-Grid Solar System & Off-Grid with battery backup (Hybrid Solar Systems)

India’s 29 states and 7 union territory’s power supply ranges from reliable to extremely unreliable. For example, in many areas of Mumbai the supply of electricity is extremely reliable with residents hardly experiencing a shortage of electricity at any time. At the same time, the electricity supply in Bangalore city can be quite unreliable at times. Keeping this in mind, the type of solar system you choose or require depends upon the supply and distribution of electricity in your area.

On-Grid Solar Systems – Who should choose it and how it works 24x7

An On-Grid/Grid connected solar system contains only the solar panels and the inverter. This type of system is ideal for establishments that are connected to the grid and experiencing no power shortages or power cuts. Since the On-Grid system does not have a battery, it uses the grid as a sort of battery instead. The solar electricity generated by this type of system is first used by the owner during the day and during the night time when solar energy cannot be generated by the panels, electricity is then used from the grid. This type of system also requires what is known as a net meter. In simple terms, the net meter calculates the amount of electricity generated and used by the owner in comparison to the amount of electricity supplied during the month. The net meter is supplied by the power supplying company on installation of rooftop solar panels and is a Government of India initiative. This is to promote the green movement, helping very rooftop owner who wants to take up the Solar movement. The On-Grid Solar System is the least expensive form of solar as it removes the requirement of a battery for the storage of electricity.

Off-Grid Solar System – What everybody thinks of when installing Solar

An Off-Grid Solar System contains the solar panels, inverter and a battery. The reason for usage of a battery in this system is for the storage of electricity when the panels are unable to generate it (at night). This type of solar system is best suited for an establishment that is not connected to a grid system. The Off-Grid Solar System is recommended mostly for rural and undeveloped places. Solar panels only generate electricity during the day, under the influence of the sun’s rays. The electricity produced must be consumed immediately/stored for use later. This way the benefits of solar can be experienced 24x7. The Off-Grid Solar System costs more than the On-Grid Solar system due to the addition of a battery. Nonetheless, this type of system offers complete energy independence and security!

Hybrid Solar Systems: On-Grid Solar System with Battery Backup– The best of both worlds

As the name suggests, the Off-Grid Solar System with battery, contains the all the elements of both On-Grid and Off-Grid Solar systems. It includes the solar panels themselves, an inverter, a net meter as well as batteries. This type of solar energy system is best suited for any establishment that is connected to the grid but is experiencing heavy power fluctuations/outages. Most cities in India face the problem of power cuts or load shedding. The solution to avoiding all these power cuts is to install a battery in an On-Grid solar system. The battery ensures that the system gets charged when not in use and power can be used from the battery in case of a power cut. This ensures uninterrupted supply of electricity to the establishment. Many of our meetings with manufacturing units in the Vasai-Virar region show that they are facing major power issues. In such cases an On-Grid Solar power system with battery is the solution to the problem.

Basic benefits and drawbacks of a Solar system- Let’s start by saying that there is nothing but benefits for Solar power, there are no known drawbacks for this type of technology. The benefits that are experienced instantly are, energy independence, zero electricity bills and a massive impact on the environment. The system takes care of itself for the most part and only gives. It is no more a question of ‘if’ one should install solar energy, but more of a question of when!

More questions regarding solar panels

Our research says there are many individuals who decides to install solar but gets confused in the final stage. Mostly the reasons are –

  1. Will it work efficiently?
  2. Will it destroy the roof?
  3. Is it a profitable investment?
  4. Have I chosen the right EPC company?

And finally end up with a conclusion that let my neighbor do it first. Pointwise we clarify the above doubts –

  1. The efficiency of Solar panels is designed, calculated and installed based on the unit consumption of individual needs. Example – We buy the shoe of our foot size.
  2. Each solar panel weighs about 20-22 kg and it is installed depending on the roof structure with proper support.
  3. This is an extremely smart investment which the European countries has already adopted because the payback period is around 2 years and benefit for lifetime.
  4. Read more about how to select the right Solar EPC company.

Conclusion: Who should install a rooftop solar system

The simple answer to this would be, anyone with a rooftop. A solar power plant is an investment, not only in terms of cash savings on your electricity bill, but also for your planet and our future. Any individual who is the owner of a residential or commercial establishment with a rooftop should be installing a Solar system. The solar power plant becomes an asset of the property and installing one on the rooftop would be the best utilization of this space.

Let’s Make India Great by ‘Embracing the Sun’.