Solar as an investment to private home ownership

The stance on solar installation and privatisation has been subjective to debate since “Infinite Reusable Energy Sources” garnered our much due scrutiny and in defiance of cases presented that have depicted both; benefits and drawbacks of Solar Investment as a private home asset, the former remains a matter of speculation well into the second decade of innovating twenty-first century.

To advocate any side of argument it’s imperative to establish a rudimentary understanding of unbounded Solar Energy and the implications of machinery installations it may present as a Goliath investiture.

Indian sub-continent has the natural precedence of geographical alignment at the tropical latitude which guarantees the certitude of 300 sunlight daytime out of a year whence the sharp sun beam falls directly over the land and the amount of Tera and Peta joules that can be derived and made useful out of harnessing the sweltering reservoir is fathomless.

Tapping into Solar Energy and related equipment installation can make for a lucrative and long-lasting investment yet it’s with misgivings that capitalists regard this proposition even in 2K18, wherein the perks of Solar power aren’t missed onto the first world countries who are taking a vociferous plunge into the matter. The exhaustible nature of coal and fossils is a global concern which they acutely address and realise the foreseeable threat of functional blackout if draconian measures aren’t embraced for the quests of a suitable alternative source.

Dearth of awareness and stringent steps taken by the authorities to preclude this amateurishness has attributed to the lag behind of India on the Solar power front. Our investors exhibit a laid back approach and procrastinate the cause because no immediate returns are envisioned on the horizon. The boon of Solar power is a circumstance of delayed gratification and it would run the course of some years before the benefits could be reaped to max potential. Notwithstanding Solar would be the revolution of millennia if we can bring ourselves to educate purposefully on the scheme and evolve our mindset to look beyond the concept of instant returns.

In alignment with government pilot projects, and yet in beta testing stages some premises have undergone Solar equipment installation and are empowered by Solar energy. Albeit narrow in figures it’s still a step forward for the advent of Solar revolution. I can vouch that solar is a golden investment both in terms of long term benefits and conversation of finite resources. If we can wisely harness and channelise solar energy than we can put it to a great many use of lighting up entire cities at relatively low maintenance cost. We can contribute our part in environment conservation. The benefits are limitless yet they don’t come without implications.

Masses and stakeholders alike also refrain from dabbling into the cause because Solar can run into a mammoth billion dollar investment. The initial phase of procuring the device apparatus and its installation can cost between Rs 50000 to 1 lakh. We are not talking one house or a neighbourhood here. We are talking entire cities and town and hundred more of them. Aside from initial their maintenance needs further overhead cost and the solar cells used in grids (Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline) need replacing in every 5-7 years. They bear a sizeable overhead cost. Albeit it’s a solid full proof investment and the bearer has to incur a one time, aside from maintenance. Post the conclude of solar installation, the equipment life stretches for a grand 20-25 years depending on individual’s maintenance and handling of the apparatus. In the course of 25 years, 1 lakh plus some overhead can be deemed as a rewarding investment and not to overlook considerable liquid capital will be spared from exorbitant electricity bills. The surplus can be transacted and traded to other organisations on the basis of market electricity piece, a practise that many home investors already indulge in developed countries.

Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) Act, 2016

Previously, there has only been a private contract between the consumer and the developer and a complete lack of governance mechanism in the real estate industry. However, now with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) Act (2016) passed, the primary aim is to provide greater transparency in the marketing and execution of real estate projects and to attract foreign direct investment into the same, in the short term. The stringent act proposes to protect the buyer by making the seller liable to pay the customer the same interest as demanded of the buyer. Allocated to a bank account, the act ensures developers to park 70% of the project funds instead of investing in multiple projects at a time, thus delivering the flats to the consumers as per timeline and keeping the consumers in the forefront. The act seeks to keep all developers accountable with timely possessions and keeps buyers in the loop with appropriate information on what they are paying for. Additionally, buyers benefit by the regulated broker environment and assure them a 5-year defect liability period.

The current scenario for buyers is undoubtedly favorable and RERA has been touted as a key reform towards greater governance. It was wholly introduced to protect consumers, although one among its several controversial clauses states that if a buyer defaults on an installment, a homebuyer too can be penalized. Under the new draft rules, there is a marked increase in burden on flat purchasers to pay their timely dues, whereas builders after terminating the agreement have full discretion to sell to another buyer immediately, this has only lead to increase in disparity between buyers and sellers. However, experts suggest that such a provision may not be raised against buyers in majority of the cases as largely home buyers would represent as the aggrieved parties who would be moving court for resolution of grievances against such developers. In fact, with the penalty provision in the new act, it’s only trying to achieve a nuanced stance between the rights of both transacting parties, resulting in greater accountability in the sector. Lastly, it’s safe to say that this issue should never crop up should the buyer be genuine.

RERA should eventually decrease the practical problems being faced by real estate consumers now that efforts are being made to increase the access to information. This initiative attempts to draw out a balance and would be an immediate success, once all parties make collaborative efforts in the right direction.

Innovation in Affordable Housing

Rapid urbanization in India has not only boosted the country’s housing sector but also presented complex affordability challenges that need to be resolved to harness economic, social and environmental opportunities associated with urbanization. Our country requires more than five million units to meet the aggregate annual demand in the affordable segment. To plug the gap in the supply chain, which is merely 10% of the total demand, we as developers need to bolster our execution capabilities to tackle not just the challenge of access to affordable housing, but also delve to improve living conditions on a macro scale.

It is safe to say that efforts have been made to privatize, deregulate and promote private sector to stir things up in the affordable housing market space, but the reality could not be further from the truth. In the article that follows, I explore why innovation is critical to affordable housing projects in current times.

Broadly speaking, “Affordable housing refers to any housing that meets some form of affordability criterion, which could be income level of the family, size of the dwelling unit or affordability in terms of EMI size or ratio of house price to annual income.”

When we talk about affordability, the land component is fixed whereas the building component requires continuous research and innovation in incremental building practice. Besides, India as a country is big on self- construction. Urbanization is happening in places where people are constructing with a contractor or a mason. A greater stake in innovation, especially in large-scale social housing projects, has to begin with mason training, material usage, improving densification plans at city level and inclusive zoning in the master plan. In the existing political landscape, if the state can step in and arrive at clear guidelines as to what affordable housing should be and provide approvals without any constraints, then the onus is on us developers to apply ideas and deliver truly affordable houses to customers.

However, for affordable housing to flourish, three critical factors need to come together. First is capital in real estate, second is ability to deal with the local reality in India (land, approvals, sand mafias and so on varying in each state) and third is mindset for affordable housing, where low cost and high volume production is the focus. Additionally, without proper data on rural affordability and urban affordability it is unscientific to design a solution.

To repair the affordable housing ecosystem, we need to have long- standing dialogues between our decision makers to voice innovation in affordability as a pressing social need and an opportunity for all.




Reducing Carbon Emissions with Community Solar

Community solar, call from the future…

Community solar project is a modern technique of sharing renewable energy in more than one household. As the term says, ‘Community solar’ can also be referred to solar garden or shared renewable form of energy which runs on both, community-owned and third party-owned plants where the benefits are shared by the community as a whole. The project illustrates how the use of ‘one of the greatest sources of energy’ can transform India with participatory processes.

Major purpose of introducing community solar is to help members of a particular community share the benefits of solar power, without having to install solar panels on individual properties. In Community solar project, the participants benefit from the electricity generated by a community solar garden, costing the price that they would otherwise pay for the same utility.

Other purposes of introducing and promoting this renewable energy-based project is to offer clean energy access to the communities in metro cities as well as rural India; offer opportunity to decentralize energy; promote judicial use of resources; and enrich livelihood opportunities.

Story of a village in Bihar…

One of the key examples of Community solar in India is how ‘women in Bihar brought solar power to a village’. There was a huge deficit of electricity in the village since 1960, in fact the village was not at all electrified ever since. To change the circumstances, women of Badil Bigha village initiated a community-based management project, called the Badil Bigha Project, and were responsible for community inclusion at all levels of power distribution and maintenance in the village.

The community solar project is attempting to check price sections in a consistent agreement with family units getting electricity. The Jeevika Women Cell has educated every family unit/recipient about how energy would change occupation structure and how these solar mini-grids can alter dynamic financial strengthening of the village.

It’s an open opportunity for the village to use this CSR pilot venture for social, financial and ecological strengthening. Community ownership has a vital part to play in the supportability of this venture and its monetary incorporation. Gender participation is one of the main thrusts of the project. Once an income-deficit town is now scaling up employments after the establishment of solarized drip irrigation system pumps.

Common misconceptions about community solar…

Community solar is similar yet different from various other methods which allow families and organizations to get associated with the rapidly growing clean energy economy.

The following are a portion of the methodologies that are now and then mistaken for community solar:

  • Group Purchase: Group purchasing permit individuals or organizations to buy their own individual solar systems at mass rates through transactions with a solar establishment organization. All things considered, group purchasing does not bring about a communal welfare—once finished, every member benefits independently from a different framework. Interestingly, in a community solar project, all members benefit from a similar framework, which is typically situated on a real estate property not really possessed by any of the members.
  • Green Power: Green Power provisions let utility’s clients to buy power sources from sustainable power source plants—primarily hydro and wind. The individuals who agree to accept Green Power for the most part do so not keeping in mind the end goal to save cash on their energy bills, rather to ‘make the best decision’; for this benefit, they pay a top notch cost for power generated by solar energy or wind mills. Cooperating in a Green Power design does not really about the additional inexhaustible power plants, as power might be sourced from prior facilities. Most community solar gardens, then again, are produced while keeping in mind to save essential amount on energy bills.
  • Crowdfunding/Online Solar Investment Platforms: Firms like Mosaic have opened up sustainable power source venture to the majority with online stages that permit essentially anybody to put into new community solar power establishments. Under such game plans, purchase in is set up absolutely as a speculation, and the power that such a framework produces isn’t related with the member’s electricity bill in any capacity—and to be sure may not be situated in a similar locality, state or potentially even nation. Returns from these plants might be assessable, while the advantages from a community solar based plant is most certainly not.

Community solar is also an investment in future…


Community solar garden enables families to take advantage of a nearby shared sun based farm which is introduced in spaces, for example, stockroom rooftops, topped landfills, or other unused land.

You don’t have to claim your home (or housetop) to use it – anyone with an energy bill should be qualified, including leaseholders, apartment suite proprietors, or those with a rooftop inappropriate for solar energy preservation.


NREL gauges that 49% of American property holders are not qualified for rooftop solar panels because of their rooftop’s alignment, shade, or structure. What’s more, a few property holders would prefer not to experience the way toward finding a contractual worker, purchasing the correct panels, and introducing them all alone, or they basically can’t manage the cost of the entire process. With Community solar, it is easier to install, process, and maintain solar energy.


In Community solar, you don’t purchase the solar panels, however rather buy in to the power created by your assigned panels in the community solar garden. Your assignment is controlled by your authentic energy utilization, so your month to month energy use is secured by the generation of your solar panel.


Community solar supporters save cash on their energy bills, generally accepting a 5-15% rebate. This is made possible by the dipping price of solar energy, state and government incentives, and pricing agreements between the solar energy creator and the utility.


Solar energy enables individuals to deliver their own energy, and Community solar conveys similar advantages to networks. On a national level, this enables the country to depend less on the worldwide energy showcase, shielding the people from flimsy energy costs and supply discrepancies.

And so…

Community solar is a call from the future. Switching to the solar energy (or any other renewable energy sources) is one of the most vital steps in decreasing world’s carbon footprint and ensuring safety of our planet.

Clean Energy in Indian Real Estate Market

For healthier cities in the future, a paradigm shift to energy efficient strategies that enables growth such as, constructing cleaner, is fundamental. When we speak about building better and more efficient cities, India’s rapid economic development, fast growth of rural to urban migration and employment brings with itself an array of challenges that has resulted in an unprecedented increase in energy use and related greenhouse emissions. Additionally, there is a greater need for climate- resilient cities as the impact of climate change is fast becoming daunting, especially for vulnerable communities in urban areas. A critical question arises of how can we as developers, turn these challenges into business advantages, as well as look at it as a national opportunity for clean energy to power cities while reducing the impact of climate change?


One way to strengthen the Indian real estate market is through boosting building codes and incentives. It is estimated that by the year 2030, approximately 3,500 twh of cumulative electricity could be saved, the equivalent of 358 million homes based on the current annual consumption level for electrified households, by instilling stronger building efficiency codes and ratings programs such as Leadership in Environment and Energy Design (LEED) and Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) in India’s commercial buildings. As these huge potential savings demonstrate, widespread adoption of the Energy Conservation Building Codes (ECBC) in Indian states and greater awareness and adoption in ratings programs could provide powerful energy savings as demand rises, while fighting climate change. It is also observed that ECBC compliant buildings can use 40- 60 percent less energy than conventional buildings, which if enforced nationwide in the near future, could yield annual energy savings up to 1.7 billion kwh.

Whilst there is an urgent need for developers, building owners, financial institutions and policymakers to participate in the discourse, to achieve optimal benefits of energy efficiency, we have to aim at reducing energy use, saving costs, increasing worker productivity, increasing asset value and market advantage. Stakeholders across the buildings market can work together to ensure that sustainable and efficient cities become a reality in India.


The South Indian Real Estate – Why consumer driven and not investor driven?

A robust establishment of skill- based manufacturing industries has led to fast- paced urbanization in the southern region, housing 102.8 million people in just urban areas (27.3% of India’s total urban population). The accelerated pace of economic development in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala contributed to 25.4% of the national domestic product (NDP) and has marginally increased in the past 5 years. Whilst maintaining a strong focus on the manufacturing sector for industries such as automobiles, textiles, pharmaceuticals, defense and aerospace, these southern states have gradually become attractive centers for the service industry, especially when we talk about technology. Overall, the four states house close to 50% of the total number of SEZs in the country. Together with industrial growth, IT remains the dominant driver for the real estate market.

Real estate, earlier an unorganized, family-driven practice, has slowly and steadily driven to becoming more organized and professionally practiced due to increasing competition in the region, however, operational hurdles for the industry is yet to be tackled.

First, building a sustainable customer base is a recurring challenge for most realtors. A customer typically engages with a real estate developer for a minimum of two to three years – from the launch of a project to construction completion and finally possession. During this period, developers should ensure a positive experience to enhance the possibility of reinvestments and referrals – the key drivers of sales in the real estate space. Today, customers are highly aware of the offerings of the market and expect the best-in-class service. Unlike the customer-seller relationship trends in other industries, customers maintain long-term relations with their real estate developers. Given this larger context of “customer relationship,” developers compete on their customer service skills and try positioning it as a key-differentiating factor to build their brand image and make sales effective, with a vision to enhance credibility overtime. The quality and effectiveness of communication with customers at various stages of the project life cycle requires real estate companies to build technological robust systems to keep up with customers’ expectations, abolish inconsistent practices, have an edge over other real estate developers by aiming to deliver a truly differentiated customer experience.

Second, there has been a visible change in product mix by developers due to muted demand and oversupply in Chennai and urban centers around the region. A massive oversupply in retail real estate has forced developers to either shelve projects or convert mall projects into mixed- use destinations or residential projects. Additionally, the demand supply mismatch has put a cap on the rising rentals for mall in various locations across cities. Most of the developers in southern India have revisited development plans for their mixed-use projects in Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad.

REITs & Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV)

India’s real estate industry has witnessed a paradigm shift from traditional finance to an era of structured finance, private equity and public offering. REITs have been in existence in developed economies since several years and provide a stable investment alternative for retail investors, as well as the real estate sector. Taking cue from developed economies, the Indian REIT regime echoes the internationally followed concepts, methods and principles.

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) is an investment vehicle that can be used to attract private investment in the infrastructure and real estate sectors, and also relieve the burden on formal banking institutions. Regulations governing REITs were introduced in India as recently as 2014.  REITs offer several advantages to people who do not have sufficient money to invest in real estate but desire to own property. Other than Unit Holders/Investors, the other primary players in REITs constitute the Trustee, Sponsors, Managers and Principal Valuer.

The India REIT regime is aimed at providing:

  • an organized market for retail investors to invest and be part of the Indian real estate growth story
  • a professionally managed ecosystem that is risk averse and is aimed at protecting the interest of public
  • an exit platform for the real estate sector to ease out liquidity burden

Investments through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV)

REITS may invest either directly or through a SPV. Where the investment is through a SPV, it is required to hold controlling interest and not less than 50% equity in such SPV. Also, the SPV is required to hold 80% equity in the REIT assets. It is to be noted that multi layer SPV structure may not be permitted and multiple schemes under REIT are not permitted.

REITs Key Advantages

REITs will help to finance, develop and manage infrastructure that drives growth and productivity in a developing country like India. In addition, they can facilitate the process of setting up large-scale housing for ordinary citizens, key workers and the disadvantaged. In short, these securitization vehicles can help to build enhanced communities that will enrich hundreds of millions of lives across the sub-continent.

India’s REITs can also help to bolster smart urbanization, underpinned by economic and social infrastructure. They can capitalize roads, vital community utilities, data centers, logistic facilities and transport systems, to name a few. Furthermore, they are efficient platforms for implementation of social infrastructure, including childcare, senior citizen care, health facilities and students’ accommodation.

In India, in the absence of a regulator for the real estate sector, introduction of REITs is a welcome move that promises to bring in liquidity, transparency, better governance, organized platform for retail investment and an ecosystem, which is professionally managed and protects investors. Largely, the Indian REIT regime is at par with the international REIT format and seems to have what is needed to provide the right impetus to the Indian real estate sector.

Although a lot has been done liberalize investments in REITs, further taxation and regulatory incentives are required to make REITs a real success in India and attract the desired investors. In light of the above, it is imperative for the Government to fast track taxation and other regulatory amendments and reforms to promote REITS in India in order for it to have the desired effect on the economy.

The market for REITs is relatively nascent in India. However, with various enabling factors such as the growth of the economy and the middle class, and a concomitant need for housing and infrastructure, we are positive that the market for these investment vehicles will witness considerable growth in the near future.

The rise of Indian Cities: Jobs vs Development

Indian cities suffer from a grave paradox as they are reported to have the lowest floor space index of construction in the world, but are among the most densely populated. It is also evident that India devotes a disproportionately high percentage of its land to agriculture at 48 per cent. The rise of cities is inevitable, with a decline in agricultural employment from 75 per cent in early post independence years to 58 per cent in current times. According to a 2014 working paper by Denis and Zérah, the number of people for whom farming was the main occupation declined from 103 million to 98 million between 2001 and 2011. In 2014, a survey of farmers conducted by CSDS found that 62% of those surveyed were willing to leave farming for a job in the city. A Lokniti survey estimates that 60% of farmers want their children to settle in cities, and only 19% think that village life is better than city life. Meanwhile, India’s farms have significant problems of under-productivity, so the country would do well to focus on non-farm avenues of growth as it works to increase the efficiency of farms.

As the pull of a city is the promise of upward mobility and affordability across public goods, India is slowly drifting towards a services dominated economy. This rural to urban transition suggests that an increasing number of people would gather around fast growing cities, resulting in India’s metropolitans to grow larger even as small towns congregate to become ‘urban’. Therefore, if India has to absorb the large numbers of people leaving agriculture and having aspirations of a better life, it cannot afford to ignore its urban areas. Urban areas means not just large metropolises, but also the smaller cities, towns, and large villages, where much of the job creating economic activities like manufacturing, small-scale industries, and construction are taking place. To match demands over the next decade, India will need to annually invest between 8 per cent and 10 per cent of its GDP on developing its urban infrastructure. Investments in infrastructure and amenities along with skill development would be vital for augmenting employment productivity in these areas. India will possibly double the size of its urban area over the next decade from 3 per cent of overall land area to 6 per cent and to make cities more inclusive to an increasing number of citizens, there is a drastic need for flexible master plans and strategic investment in incremental planning.

But first, transfer of land for urbanization will require land titles to be clear and land acquisition to be transparent and participative. Second, to fund such large investments, cities will have to look towards its own citizens, whether it is through monetizing of its lands, higher usage charges for public goods, or higher property taxes. Hence, the slow, bottom-up changes should be supplemented from the top, with a policy direction that recognizes urban India, and leverages this demographic change to spur economic development.