From less than 10 MW at the end of 2009, the cumulative solar installations touched 4229 MW at the end of August 2015. Of this, more than 90 percent of the total installations are ground mounted utility scale solar projects. However, the contribution of rooftop and ground mounted captive solar in the total solar generation capacity is increasing.
Most of the small scale rooftop solar projects are being commissioned in residential and commercial segments, while the large scale rooftop solar projects are commissioned in the industrial segments. Of all the various sub-segments in industrial segments, some of the major solar projects have been commissioned in the automobile industry.
Daimler India Commercial Vehicles was one of the pioneers in setting up a solar plant, having set up a 300 kW plant at its warehouse facility in Chennai (Tamil Nadu) in February 2013. Apart from meeting the Solar Purchase Obligations (SPO) in the Tamil Nadu, the plant also helps Daimler India in reducing the carbon footprint.
Another example of automotive companies setting up solar plants is again in Tamil Nadu, when a consortium of automotive components built two large scale projects (2.12 MW and 1.06 MW). While these plants were not in their respective factory locations, the electricity generated can be wheeled for their own consumption.
Maruti Suzuki India is another automakers which has ventured into solar power generation. It commissioned a 1 MW plant in its plant premises in Manesar facility in Haryana. The plant was unique in the sense it was built on a water lagoon within the factory premises.
Drivers for solar PV in automobile industry
Some of the reasons why solar as an energy source makes a lot of sense:
Cost reduction – The electricity tariff for industrial consumers are among the highest among all sectors, and for the industrial consumers, in most states, solar will be cheaper. Solar prices are going to remain almost the same throughout the lifetime of the solar plant(except for degradation and some replacement) whereas the electricity rates from conventional sources of power are expected to escalate year-on-year.
Compliance of Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO) – Several industrial consumers of electricity have to meet their RPO and setting up a solar plant is one of the simplest ways to comply with the RPO.
Availability of roof space – Unlike most commercial establishments, Most of the automotive factories have vast unshaded roof area and vast tracts of unused land. Setting up solar plants on these unshaded and unused areas is a relatively easy task.
Energy Savings – Solar power generated in the site can offset the electricity that needs to be drawn from the grid. This in turn leads to further cost reduction.
Reducing carbon footprint – Most of the companies operate with explicit carbon footprint reduction. Solar plants help in environmental protection and also reduce carbon footprint.
Intersolar India, an exhibition which will showcase the latest solutions from the solar industry, is to be held at the Bombay Exhibition Centre from November 18-20.