Tata Power has been a significant presence in India’s solar rooftop space for more than 30 years, having commissioned its first solar installation in 1991. The company comes with a successful background of designing and executing fully integrated and customised solar power plant projects. In line with the government’s aim to encourage the adoption of green energy solutions in India, Tata Power has created customisable solutions to cater to a diverse customer base across the residential, micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME), and commercial and industrial (C&I) segments.
Tata Power’s rooftop business is focused on providing on-site and off-site (open access or group captive) solutions for customers. The company’s installed rooftop solar portfolio, which is primarily a capex-driven portfolio, currently consists of over 600 MW of capacity. Of this, about 10 per cent is under opex-based installations. For off-site solutions, its portfolio is close to about 100 MW and there is plenty of space to grow. Tata Power’s rooftop solar solutions are available in 26 states and 7 union territories and its products are available in 94 cities across the country so far.
Covid impact and growth plans
During the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in April and May 2021, there was significant impact on the rooftop solar business in terms of the ability to execute existing orders. However, there was no shortfall in order inputs. Moreover, the order input was significantly higher during this period than it was before the first wave of Covid-19. Although revenues were not fully realised in this period, order inputs were still coming in from the residential as well as C&I segments, reflecting the core economic value proposition of rooftop solar.
Tata Power’s rooftop solar segment is focused on scaling up the business. Relative to the numbers achieved in financial year 2021, the business expects to grow three times by the end of the current financial year and tenfold over the next five years. To achieve this, quite a few initiatives are being undertaken. The company is augmenting its resources on the ground. It is also expanding the sales team quite significantly and broadening its network of channel partners. The size of the sales team has increased significantly to thrice its initial size. In addition, to enable scaling up of the business, it is investing heavily in digitalisation. Further, there are also investments being made on building up the brand. Beyond these initiatives, Tata Power is bringing in a wide variety of financing options for customers to make it affordable and convenient for them to adopt rooftop solar.
Recent developments and key projects
In order to address the challenge of affordable financing, Tata Power and SIDBI collaborated to design a unique solar financing solution for MSME customers, helping them switch to rooftop solar without any collateral at an interest rate of less than 10 per cent. This financing scheme is exclusively for MSME customers of the company.
The company has taken various other steps for promoting the adoption of rooftop solar. In February 2021, Tata Power launched the “SOLAROOF” – “Kamai Badhaye Dildaar Banaye” campaign aimed at creating awareness about the environmental and commercial benefits of solar rooftop installation. Another initiative launched by Tata Power to promote its rooftop solar services and home automation products, is Tata Basera. Under this initiative, individual home builders/owners purchasing rebars from Tata Steel would benefit from additional and exclusive offers from Tata Power, on purchasing rooftop solar solutions for their new homes.
The key projects set up by Tata Power in the residential segment include more than 10 MW of installations of 1-5 kW each, set up in Kerala with ANERT, and 32 systems of 5 kW each, installed at Suvidha Housing Society in Bengaluru. Meanwhile, select key projects in the commercial/ institutional segment include the 16 MW of rooftop solar at the Radha Soami Satsang Beas in Punjab, 820.8 kWp solar rooftop installation at the Brabourne Cricket Stadium in Mumbai, a 120 kW vertical solar farm project for Dell India and a 6.2 MW solar car-port at Tata Motors solar carport in Pune. Recently, Tata Power was also empanelled and won a contract worth Rs 4 billion from Kerala State Electricity Board Limited to develop 84 MW of solar rooftop project(s) for domestic consumers across all districts of Kerala.
Opportunities and outlook
The market and regulatory environment looks quite favourable for open access and other green power solutions for end-users. In line with this, the company plans for aggressive growth in the off-site solution options for its customers. The new proposed regulations for open access are expected to open up a host of opportunities to tap large energy consumers, especially in the C&I segment. While there is a need to figure out how to deal with risks such as those associated with offtaker payment, the proposed regulations are a potentially game-changing move. In light of this development and the increasing momentum for clean energy, there may be plenty of options for Tata Power’s rooftop business to flourish in the on-site as well as off-site solar space.
By Meghaa Gangahar