Tata Solar Sees Over $1 Billion Opportunity in India

Tata Power Solar Systems, a division of India’s biggest company Tata Group, sees installing solar systems in India as a $1.3 billion opportunity.

That’s because it will cost more for commercial and industrial customers to get their electricity from the grid by 2016 than from their own solar systems.

"We’re seeing a huge uptake as we get closer and closer to grid parity," CEO Ajay Goel told Bloomberg. "Corporate customers are coming to us to install solar on their rooftops or land on the side of their factories because it can provide energy cheaper than from the grid."

Solar India

Formerly a joint venture with oil company BP, the company has been manufacturing solar panels, but it needs to move beyond that because of the world glut caused by Chinese manufacturers.

So far, Tata has developed and installed solar systems for Indian divisions of Dell and IBM, among others. The payback period can be just a year if a company can depreciate the systems on taxes and four years if it can’t. And the economics look even better if the cost of diesel is included to cope with daily blackouts, says Goel. Using diesel generators costs double that of solar.

Even Coal India – the world’s largest coal mining company – says it will install solar across its operations to save on energy bills!

Solar is cheaper than grid-based electricity now in about 10% of India’s states for hotels, shopping malls and other commercial enterprises that pay the highest rates (electricity rates differ depending on the type of business and its location). Rates have risen 15% since 2010, while solar electricity dropped 39%, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
By 2016, solar will be cheaper than grid-based electricity in 60% of states and by 80% if government subsidies are included in the calculation, Goel told Bloomberg.

In 2009, India set a target of building 20 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity by 2020, under its National Solar Mission, or 10% of electricity. For renewable energy, the target is 80 GW by 2020.

Last year, Tata Power, India’s largest utility said it’s giving up on new coal plants and focusing on renewable energy instead.

Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus of Tata Group is one of the leaders involved in launching The B Team, which wants to transform businesses into a "force for good," instead of focusing solely on profits.

Here’s an update on the state of renewable energy in India.

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