Apartment communities are one of the best-suited places for roof-top solar installations for two reasons:
- The availability of shadow-free area is quite high.
- The consumptions of apartment common area loads are also high.
Because of the above two reasons and the increasing tariff from the ESCOM(Electricity Supply Company)s year on year, the solar for apartments are becoming attractive from the point of view of Return on Investment(ROI).
Solar PV systems which are meant to last much longer(since the major components like PV panels and inverters come long warranties) and after the ROI time period, the PV system can become an income generating asset for the community.
Here are the following few factors to be considered in an apartment complex where solar is being considered:
1. Roof-top Area Availability
The amount of shadow-free area that can be utilised for installing solar panels is one crucial factor which determines the maximum system size possible. Some apartments have a huge water tank, antennas, skylights or special canopy structures which reduces the usable space for solar PV installation.
In some of the apartments/gated communities, the feasible areas would be the club-house buildings, car parking areas and other utility areas.
2. The ESCOM policy prevailing in the State for Solar Installation
For the grid-connected solar the second major factor that determines the solar installation limit is the prevailing policy from the ESCOM. The policy can determine what is the maximum solar PV capacity that can be connected to the grid through the bi-directional meter.
In Karnataka, as on date, the policy allows connecting a maximum solar PV system equal to the sanctioned load of the meter. This means that if the common area sanctioned load is 60 kW, the maximum solar that can be installed would be 60 kWp.
In case of multiple meters for common area roofs, the best solution is to install maximum solar on each meter on a net-metering basis.
3. Common area meter consumptions:
Going forward, selling energy(in excess than what we consume) back to the ESCOMs would be less attractive compared to self-consuming the energy. This means that it is wise to install a solar plant that can net out the electricity consumption from the ESCOM than sending power back. Say if the electricity consumption per month from the ESCOM(without any solar installation) is around 6000 units, it is advised to install a solar power plant that can generate 6000 units maximum.
4. Budgeting and Approvals
Last but not the least, the budget plays a key role in communities in taking up a solar project for the common area. Generally, approvals from the AGM(Annual General Meetings) is a must for the solar projects to take off. For this, the association or the team assigned by the association has to come up with ROI calculations for the investment that they have to make.
These are the major factors to be considered at the start, other factors like technical feasibility, financing for the projects etc. also play a key role in the system to get the system commissioned.