Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How much does a rooftop solar PV system cost?


Within this section you will find
  • Types of rooftop solar PV systems
  • Component cost of rooftop PV systems
  • Incentives/Subsidies
    • Accelerated Depreciation (AD)
    • MNRE Subsidy
  • Final cost of Rooftop PV system factoring in AD and Subsidies
  • Prospects for further cost reduction
  • Variations in pricing
The cost of a rooftop solar PV system depends on the function it serves (to feed power into the grid, to support the load during a power failure, etc.) and incentives/subsidies available. It should be noted that all solar PV systems function by matching the voltage from some other source. Therefore the system has to be integrated with the grid, a battery backup, or a diesel generator.

Types of rooftop solar PV systems

Rooftop solar PV systems are of 3 types:
  1. Grid-tied – These rooftop systems are primarily designed to supply the generated power to the grid and also power the load. These systems will NOT generate power during a power failure as the inverter shuts down the system to stop sending power into the grid and avoids the risk of electrocuting utility personnel who are working to repair the grid
  2. Grid-interactive – This system works in conjunction with either a battery backup or diesel generator to support the load even during a power failure.
  3. Off-grid – This system does not work with the grid and is designed to work only with a battery backup or diesel generator in off-grid applications
The difference between the systems lies in the kind of inverter used, and the inclusion of batteries. As various vendors use different terminology for these systems we urge you to verify the functions of the offered system rather than going by the name alone.

Component cost of rooftop PV systems

A rooftop solar PV system costs approximately Rs. 1,00,000 per kWp (kilowatt peak) including installation charges but without batteries and without considering incentives (which are discussed further down). The cost breakup for a 1 kWp system is given below:
ComponentRs.% of total cost
PV modules (Crystalline)52,00052%
Inverters23,00023%
Balance of System (cables, etc.)17,00017%
Installation8,0008%
Total1,00,000
Note 1: The above prices are for components from Tier 1 manufacturers with 5-year manufacturer’s warranty. In addition the PV modules have output warranty of 90% of rated capacity for the first 10 years and 80% of rated capacity for the next 15 years.
Note 2: We have not considered battery backup as that can alter the economics significantly depending on the extent of battery backup (autonomy) required. Not only do batteries add to the initial cost, recurring maintenance, and replacement expenditure, the energy loss on charging and drawing from the battery also adds to the cost of power. A battery backup would add about Rs. 25,000 to the cost of the above system.
Note 3: We have not considered Thin-Film modules as they require more installation area for the same capacity as Crystalline modules and are therefore not preferred for rooftop installations where space is usually a constraint.

Incentives/Subsidies

Several incentives are available for rooftop solar PV plants through the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.
Accelerated Depreciation (AD)
Accelerated depreciation of 80% is available under the Income Tax act for rooftop solar PV systems. This can provide significant savings to a solar plant developer who is a taxable assesse and has sufficient profits against which the depreciation can be charged. This is illustrated in this table:
Tax savings from accelerated depreciation
Item
Rs.
Cost of a 100 kW rooftop solar plant (A)
1,00,000.00
Accelerated depreciation @80%
80, 000.00
Corporate tax rate*
35%
Tax saved through depreciation (B)
28, 000.00
Net cost of rooftop solar plant (A)-(B)
72, 000.00
MNRE Subsidy
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) provides Central Financial Assistance through capital and/or interest subsidy (depending on the nature of the applicant). The summary of the subsidy scheme is provided in the table:
S. No.Category
Maximum capacity
GOI Support
System with battery backup
System without battery backup
Interest Subsidy
1
Individuals for all applications1 kWpRs.51/watt or 30% of project cost whichever is lessRs.30/watt or 30% of project cost whichever is lessSoft loans @5% p.a.
2
Individuals for Irrigation, & community drinking water applications5 kWpRs.51/watt or 30% of project cost whichever is lessRs.30/watt or 30% of project cost whichever is lessSoft loans @5% p.a.
3
Non-commercial/
commercial/industrial applications
100 kWpRs.51/watt or 30% of project cost whichever is lessRs.30/watt or 30% of project cost whichever is lessSoft loans @5% p.a.*
4
Non-commercial/
commercial/industrial mini-grids
250 kWpRs.90/watt or 30% of project cost whichever is lessSoft loans @5% p.a.*
*for commercial/ industrial entities either of capital or interest subsidy will be available
Note: 1 The benchmark cost for setting up a solar PV plant is Rs. 170/Wp (With battery providing 6 hours of autonomy) and Rs. 100 per Wp (without battery) i.e. if the actual project cost exceeds this amount then project cost will be deemed to be the benchmark cost for calculating the subsidy.
Note 2: Benchmark costs are for systems with 5-year warranty for all components (inverters, batteries, switchgear, etc.) other than PV modules which are warranted for 90% of output at end of year 10 and 80% at end of year 25. PV modules have to be made in India to avail subsidy.
Note 3: Capital subsidy is increased to 90% of benchmark cost for special category states (North Eastern states, Sikkim, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand).
The subsidy calculation is illustrated in this table:
Savings from capital subsidy
Item
Rs.
Cost of a 1 kW rooftop solar plant with battery backup
1,60,000.00
Benchmark cost
1,70,000.00
Subsidy @30% of actual cost
48,000.00
Net cost after subsidy benefit
1,12,000.00

Final cost of Rooftop PV system factoring in AD and Subsidies

Rooftop PV system cost after factoring in AD and Subsidy benefit
The final cost to setup the PV plant, after factoring in Accelerated Depreciation and Subsidy benefit will be:
Final cost of 1 kW rooftop PV plant
Item
Rs.
Cost of a 1 kW rooftop solar plant
100,000.00
Subsidy @ 30%
30,000.00
Net cost after subsidy
70,000.00
Accelerated depreciation @80%
56,000.00
Tax rate
35%
Tax saved through depreciation
19,600.00
Net cost after both AD and Subsidy
50,400.00

Prospects for further cost reduction

One of the questions we are regularly asked is if project cost is likely to reduce significantly in future, as the price of solar PV modules has seen a substantial decrease in recent years. This chart shows the proportion of the prices of each component (from the table above) to the total project cost:
Though PV modules have decreased in price they form only half the cost of the total project; further decrease, if any, will only affect that portion and therefore impact on total project cost will be limited. The prices of the other components have not decreased the way the price of PV modules has decreased. Therefore we do not expect to see much reduction in project cost in the near future.
Prices of solar PV systems offered by various vendors can differ significantly. There can be several reasons for the variations in price, such as
  • Overstatement of capacity – Some vendors advertise a rooftop system with 1 KW modules (solar panels) and a 5 kW inverter as a 5 KW system. As the electricity is generated by the modules this system only has a 1 kW capacity and the price offered by the vendor should be compared with other 1 KW systems and not 5 kW plants
  • Brands – Products from Tier I manufacturers are typically more expensive but offer much better performance and reliability
  • Certifications/Standards – Products that are certified and meet quality standards are more expensive
  • Warranties – The price of the system can depend on the warranties offered.
    • PV Panels – Industry standard warranty is
      • 5-year manufacturer warranty
      • 0-10 years for 90% of the rated output power
      • 10-25 years for 80% of the rated output power
    • Other systems – Inverters, mounting structures, cables, junction boxes, etc. typically come with a 1 year manufacturer warranty which can be extended to 5 years
Takeaways
  • A 1 KW rooftop plant costs about Rs. 1,00,000
  • A battery backup would add R.s 25,000 to this cost but is not recommended unless absolutely necessary due to losses when charging or drawing power
  • Any further decrease in PV module prices are not likely to significantly reduce project cost as modules comprise only half the total cost of the project
  • Customers should check that the PV plant capacity quoted by vendor is for the module capacity and not the inverter capacity

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