The impending solar power revolution in India would not be limited to large-scale projects but would also include off-grid solutions like community-level power plants and solar lanterns.
The household solar power systems market is expected to increase by 60% annually, to reach an estimated market size of $250 million in 2018. The number of households using such power systems is expected to more than double to 7.2 million by 2018.
These are among the conclusions from a recent report by The Climate Group and Goldman Sachs states.
About half a million solar home power systems were sold to about 900,000 households in 2014 which is expected to increase by 6-times to 3 million in 2018. Power generated from these solar home power systems helped offset 39,000 tonnes of CO2 in 2014 which is expected to increase to more than 235,000 tonnes of CO2 by 2018.
The authors note that off-grid solar power sector targeting households and small villages might be a tricky market for new entrants. Such systems require significant upfront investment by the end users even if low-cost finance options are available.
The end users would be willing to choose trusted brands with good track record while investing in such off-grid solar power systems.
While the recent activity in the Indian solar power market has been dominated by large-scale power projects, several leading companies are also working on the off-grid segment. SunEdison announced that it would install 250 MW of distributed solar power capacity across 5,000 villages over the next few years. A number of Indian as well as international companies are also working closely with non-government organisations to distribute solar lanterns in villages that are not yet connected to the power grid.
While India’s ambitious plan to add 100 GW solar power capacity by 2022 is expected to be largely based on utility-scale projects, the needs of those without electricity access would most likely be met by the most basic of off-grid solutions. The Indian government has pledged to provide electricity access to every household by the end of this decade.
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