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India Plans $9 Billion Rooftop Solar Push as Key Elections Loom

(Bloomberg) -- India plans to invest about 750 billion rupees ($9 billion) to power 10 million homes with rooftop solar panels, boosting the weakest segment of the country’s booming renewable industry.

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Sluggish deployment of rooftop systems has cast doubt on India’s target of almost quadrupling solar power generation capacity from 73 gigawatts by the end of the decade. Now Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek to increase the pace of the solar-power rollout with a combination of subsidies and cheaper loans.

The installations will also allow users to sell surplus electricity back to the grid, giving each household 300 kilowatt hours of free power every month, Modi said in a post on X. “The scheme will lead to more income, lesser power bills and employment generation for people,” he said.

The investment is part of a plan unveiled last month, ahead of crucial national elections where Modi is seeking a third term as prime minister. India’s plan to install 40 gigawatts of rooftop solar capacity by 2026 also echoes the strategy pursued in China to drive down energy prices by creating economies of scale in solar.

Research by the think tank Council on Energy, Environment and Water, found that India’s homes could hold up to 637 gigawatts of solar capacity on their roofs, a potential stifled by the cost of installations pricing out small households.

Still, the loan rates offered by a group of banks to finance the rooftop installations may still be too costly — at as much as 14% — for many households, documents on the program’s portal show.

--With assistance from Dan Murtaugh and Lou Del Bello.

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