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Attracted by India’s solar energy potential, French energy company Engie is in talks with the country’s largest roof manufacturer Everest Industries Ltd for a partnership for solar-ready roofs, said several people aware of the development.
With around 60% of rooftop space not fit for solar installations given their sub-par design, the plan is to create a new category of solar-ready roofs and help meet the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s 40,000 megawatt (MW) solar rooftop target which has been slipping.
This comes in the backdrop of Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc completing its first solar roof installations. India offers a big opportunity given its 750 gigawatt (GW) potential on account of enjoying 300 sunny days a year with an average solar radiation range of 4-7 per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
“The talks are on between Engie and Everest,” said a person aware of the discussions on condition of anonymity. With around €66.6 billion in revenue, Engie has been trying to expand its presence in the Indian clean energy space and set up a 2GW capacity by 2019. Its subsidiary Solairedirect has been actively bidding for solar power projects and has a 810MW portfolio.
“We are still some time away from solar roofs. What Everest and Engie are looking at now are solar-ready roofs which are suitable for solar rooftop projects from the viewpoint of design, load and angle. There is a lot of opportunity in this space given the government’s push for solar,” said another person aware of the discussions, also requesting anonymity.
India’s green energy play is expected to grow substantively with federal policy think tank NITI Aayog projecting a 597-710GW capacity by 2040 in its new draft energy policy. The NDA government has set an ambitious clean energy target of 175GW by 2022. Of the 100GW targeted from solar projects, 40GW is to come from solar rooftop projects.
However, a parliamentary standing committee has said that the 40GW target of grid-connected rooftop solar by 2022 is “unrealistic” and added that it is “highly unlikely that this target will be achieved”, Mint reported on 1 August. Experts believe such solutions will facilitate faster solar adoption in India.
“Roofing systems with photo-voltaic panels integrated will be a good solution to increase penetration of rooftop solar at a faster pace and at marginal cost. All state electricity regulatory commissions have issued net metering policies and every consumer in India can be a prosumer (a play on producer and consumer),” said Reji Kumar Pillai, president and chief executive of India Smart Grid Forum, a public-private partnership of the power ministry.
The deal-making focus has also shifted to the rooftop solar space given the race to the bottom seen in solar power tariffs for grid-connected utility-scale projects.
A case in point being US-based private equity firm Warburg Pincus Llc’s plans to invest up to $100 million in CleanMax Solar, an on-site rooftop solar power developer, in one of the largest overseas investments in the Indian rooftop solar space.
While an Engie spokesperson in an emailed response said “Engie does not comment on any market rumor”, Manish Sanghi, managing director at Everest Industries, in his emailed reply said, “Everest is the largest roofing and pre-engineered buildings maker in the country. As a natural extension to its business portfolio, Everest has started a solar roofing business and is in talks with a number of organizations for business association.”
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