Installing a solar system on a commercial rooftop is the need of the hour – electricity tariffs are touching the clouds. The rates aren’t expected to come down, they’ll only soar higher and higher.
It’s no rocket science that the consumption of power is the highest in the commercial and industrial sectors.
In many states of India, the electricity tariffs are as high as Rs. 12 to Rs. 14 per unit. Ain’t it funny that a rooftop and the Sun can team up together to single-handedly produce electricity to run an entire commercial set-up, and more importantly, Sunlight is not just abundant but also free?
Yes, the idea of substantial savings is quite tempting – but hold that thought of installing solar panels on your commercial rooftop just yet! There are things that you should be aware of before making any decision.
Ranging from the rooftop’s eligibility to the type of solar model, the many benefits, and the few limitations, there’s a lot you need to know.
So, grab that cup of coffee and explore solar installation on a commercial rooftop with us like never before. Dive in!
Does your commercial rooftop meet the criterion for solar installation?
People who tell you that all you need is a rooftop to install a solar system aren’t telling you the entire truth – the rooftops have to meet certain requirements.
Let’s find out what those requirements are:
- Strength of the roof: A solar system will easily exert a weight of no less than 15 kg/sq meter. If your rooftop isn’t in its best shape, it will most likely crackle under the system’s weight. In such cases, you have to get the roof fixed first.
- Type of the roof: India’s two most popular rooftop types are RCC roofs and metallic sheet roofs. The former is stronger than the latter. For an RCC rooftop, the hot-dip galvanized steel mounting stands are perfect. When the commercial rooftop is metallic, lightweight aluminum rail structures are needed.
- Orientation of the slope: The sun’s favorite direction is South. Why are we saying that? Well, India lies in the Northern hemisphere; hence, the South direction receives the maximum sunshine in India. Hence, if your rooftop is slanted, it’s better that the slope is facing the South.
- The casting shadows: Solar panels need sunlight. If the surrounding trees or buildings cast shadows on your commercial rooftop, that can be a problem. Panels churn maximum electricity between 9 AM to 4 PM, and the peak hours fall between 11 AM to 2 PM. Nothing should shade the panels during these hours. Otherwise, the production would be lower than the system’s efficiency.
Now you know why you can’t just get up one day and install a solar system on your commercial rooftop. An expert will first inspect your rooftop thoroughly to find out the best solution.
Which Solar Model is Better – CAPEX or OPEX?
Before we can comment on which of the two is better, we’d like to first tell you what they are.
The CAPEX model is where you’ll own the solar system. Hence, you’ll pay the cost of the system upfront.
The OPEX model is where the vendors own the solar system because they invest money in the installation of the solar system. You purchase solar electricity from the vendor. The rate of solar electricity you purchase will not be higher than Rs. 5 or Rs. 6. Later on, you can also buy the solar plant from the vendor.
So, which of the two is better depends on your requirements such as your current financial status. If you can afford the cost of installation, the CAPEX model is better. If you have financial limitations, the OPEX model will suit your needs better.
CAPEX model with net metering or without net metering – How to choose?
If your rooftop is spacious, not clouded by shadows, and your power requirements are unpredictable (sometimes you’ll need more electricity, sometimes less), the CAPEX model with net metering is the right choice.
A bi-directional net meter will be installed and the grid will serve the role of a battery in these cases. The net meter will work like a logbook: it will keep a record of the electricity you exported to the grid and the electricity you imported from the grid.
Based on whether you supplied more units or imported more, your final solar bill will be generated.
It’s also known as Captive consumption or behind-the-meter solar.
When the electricity being generated by the solar system is being consumed within the establishment, there’s no requirement of a net meter.
At no point in time will the generation ever exceed the consumption. Hence, at any given point during the day, there won’t be any extra units left that could be exported to the grid.
Rumors and Facts: The must-know Details
Before we walk you through the much-awaited benefits, we will make you aware of some must-know rumors and facts as they might influence your decision9.
- You will get a subsidy: It’s a RUMOR. Subsidy on solar panels is available for residential users and housing societies only. Commercial installations do not benefit from subsidies.
- The tilt angle of the panels affects the power generation: It’s a FACT. In ideal scenarios, the maximum production occurs when the Sun is perpendicular to the panels. Hence, the tilt of the panels is very important. It should be such that the Sun is near-perpendicular to the panels during the peak hours. In the south, the angle is about 10 degrees. As you start moving towards the north, you’ll find that the angle will increase. It’s almost always more than 20 degrees in North India.
Top 3 Benefits of Installing a solar system on your commercial rooftop
We saved the best for the last. Let’s get started without further preamble.
#4. The savings are high irrespective of the Model you choose
Whether it’s the CAPEX model you choose or the OPEX model, the money you’ll save on electricity bills is overwhelming.
- When you own the solar system, you’re producing your own electricity, probably supplying some to the DISCOM. If you consumed more units than produced, you pay just for those extra units. If you supply more, they will be adjusted in your bill and you might even earn revenue.
- In the OPEX model, your savings are just as good. You didn’t pay the installation cost and the solar electricity you’re purchasing will cost you just 4 to 6 rupees per unit.
#2. RPO obligations are no longer a worry
Since you’re already generating/buying solar electricity, your RPO obligation is being met already. That’s one concern off your list.
#3. You get benefits on Income Tax
This is a lesser-known but extremely substantial benefit of installing a solar system on your commercial rooftop.
In conventional cases (when the asset is not a solar system), you can claim an accelerated depreciation of just 5% against the cost of the asset.
On the other hand, when the asset in question is a solar system, you can claim an accelerated depreciation of 40% against the cost of the solar system you installed. Needless to say, that’s a lot of money saved on income tax of your business.
#4. You have no longer a role in environmental degradation
Going solar means capping the emission of greenhouse gasses as none are produced. You’re the planet’s hero since you’re not causing pollution and your carbon footprint is reduced. Could you ask for more?
Installing a solar system on a commercial rooftop is a great step toward reducing pollution all the while saving a lot of money. Imagine the ways in which you can invest the money that you’re saving!
Besides, sooner or later, solar power will replace exhaustible fossil fuels. So, why not do it now when the Earth needs you the most?