In 2015, India set a renewable energy capacity target of 175 gigawatts (GW) by 2022 for transitioning to a low-carbon pathway. Of this, 100 GW was earmarked for solar capacity with 40 GW (40 per cent ) expected to be achieved from the rooftop solar sector by 2022. Later, the plan ramped up to 450 GW that has to be completed by 2030.
Recently, India achieved an installed capacity of 100 GW of renewable power, 78 per cent of which is due to large-scale solar and wind power projects. According to scientists and conservationists, rooftop solar is considered an alternative to renewable energy projects. The government's report states that the country achieved 5.1 GW of rooftop solar by July.
The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis report in 2019 on the rooftop solar potential in India claimed that between 2012 and 2018, with the compound annual growth rate of 116 per cent, rooftop solar was the fastest growing renewable energy sub-sector in India. But despite this, it fell behind after the initial run. The spokesperson of Tata Power, one of India's largest power companies that install residential, commercial, and industrial rooftops, acknowledged the massive potential of rooftop solar sector in India.
The initial cost of installing rooftop solar is high. According to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis report, financial assistance is one of the factors that could provide the momentum to rooftop solar installations. Vibhuti Garg, an energy economist and one of the co-authors of the report, emphasised that a midway path needs to be adopted as with gross metering, consumers have no incentive to deploy expensive solar rooftops. The issue needs to be resolved.
To keep the panels well-maintained, large solar farms require a lot of water. Debajit Palit, Director of the Energy and Resources Institute's Rural Energy and Livelihoods programme, raised this concern for places like Rajasthan, where water is a precious commodity. The other ecological problems include ground-mounted solar panels being a threat to existing vegetation and local wildlife. The Great Indian Bustard is a habitat in Rajasthan facing a threat due to renewable energy projects.