Even as India increasingly adds solar generation capacity, which is an example for many other developing countries, there is a large population of the South Asian nation that has yet to join the clean energy cart: Indian households.
Less than one percent of Indian homes have solar panels on their roofs. Such a slower approval could dampen Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious target on renewable energy. SolarSquare, a startup racing to sell, install and help individuals finance solar panels, wants to change that.
On Friday, a number of investors announced their support for SolarSquare’s dreams. SolarSquare has raised $4 million in a round led by Good Capital. Chris Sacca’s Lowercarbon Capital also invested in the company, the first aid in India.
Symphony Asia, Rainmatter, Better Capital, Climate Angels and operators including Maninder Gulati of OYO, Ashish Goel of Urban Ladder and Amit Kumar Agarwal, Akhil Gupta and Saurabh Garg of NoBroker also took part in the round.
“The history of electricity and energy is that it is produced in highly polluted coal-fired power stations, hundreds of miles from your home and there from the distribution grid to your home. It’s polluting, it’s expensive and a lot of energy is lost in the transmission,” said Shreya Mishra, co-founder and CEO of SolarSquare, in an interview with Vidak For Congress.
“The future is distributed power, where every home has its own solar panel. It is much cheaper than buying electricity from the grid, and it is clean,” she said.
SolarSquare, which started serving the customer segment a year and a half ago after running a profitable business selling rooftop solar to businesses for years, has sold solar systems to more than 3,000 homes and apartments in the South Asian market.
“Our average home saves up to $650 in electric bills each year,” she said. SolarSquare’s systems and installation cost approximately $1,500 and have a lifespan of 25 years. The equation is simple, said Mishra, who previously ran an e-commerce business. “You get 21 years of free electricity.”
SolarSquare – which currently has a presence in Delhi-NCR, Maharashtra, Bengaluru, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh – installs its solar panels within 8 hours, compared to some legacy companies that take up to five days. In some houses, it builds an additional ramp for mounting panels at the request of customers.
“Climate change issues are real and urgent. As a company, we are committed to partnering with the best entrepreneurs to tackle the challenges in this market. We are delighted to partner with Shreya, Neeraj and Nikhil in establishing the leading residential solar brand in India,” said Rohan Malhotra, Managing Partner at Good Capital, in a statement.
Indian companies moving into Indian housing will help the South Asian country’s renewable energy goal. Coal currently provides 70% of India’s electricity generation, but Modi has promised that by 2030 India will produce more energy through solar and other renewable energy sources than the entire electricity grid.
It has taken steps to help startups like SolarSquare. New Delhi offers grants to homeowners powered by rooftop solar, allowing them to distribute the excess power they generate to the grid during the day and use the grid at night.
The startup plans to use the new funds to expand its presence in India and also build a technology stack for consumers to help them monitor their solar performance in real time.
Mishra is confident that India will see similar adoption in rooftop systems to smartphones and mobile internet.
“India is already the third largest consumer of electricity in the world and they will add capacity the size of Europe over the next 20 years to keep up with demand. Solar Square will drive that growth with its one-day rooftop solar installations, which are already making energy cheaper and more reliable for thousands of Indian homes,” said Clay Dumas, General Partner at Lowercarbon, in a statement.