Are State Governments Doing Enough For Promoting Solar Rooftop?

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Mr. Ashu Gupta, Head Regulatory and Government Relation, Cleanmax Solar

Solar Rooftop or we may say distributed solar pv system is perhaps the best usage of the solar PV technology and state governments understand the same as well. Most of the state governments through their agencies like the SNA and SERCs have issued progressive policies and regulations respectively, but in recent times the state utilities of many of the states have been seen becoming hurdle in the promotion and growth of the same. The SERCs have also been amending the regulations from time to time which are deterrent in nature for the growth of this sector. The more worrying part is the helplessness of the state government in ensuring that the policies and regulations are not deterrent in nature for this sector. As a duty of the state government needs to see the overall impact of the increase of usage of renewable energy in distributed form in their area and from only one angle of perceived threat to the revenue of the state utilities. Some of the progressive states like Telangana, Punjab etc. which have realized the benefit of rooftop have gone ahead with single portal facility for the approval of the rooftop plants and due to the states initiatives tremendous growth can be seen.

The new subsidy scheme for the promotion of the residential rooftop solar pv system will definitely be a game changer in the growth of this sector if not in volume but in terms of reach and spread. It will be very interesting to see the growth in this sector post the implementation of rooftop solar phase II as proposed by government of India where by incentivising the DISCOMs and making them nodal agencies for the promotion of the solar rooftop and distributed generation programme.

Mr. Dharmendra Jain, Director, HFM Solar Power Private Limited

Uttar Pradesh, owing to large population and economic potential has high industrial, commercial as well as MSME activity, representing a large & strong market for rooftop solar installations. UP has been assigned among the highest targets for solar rooftop (4.3 GWp) of which only 6.1% has been achieved on date. The untapped potential represents a significant market opportunity to rooftop solar players. As per MNRE the state has 22.3 GWp potential.

With the new Regulation of the Uttar Pradesh State Electricity Regulatory Commission, in January, 2019 there will be a huge negative impact on investment in the rooftop solar sector in the state. The government / Public / Private institutions are only interested to install rooftop solar plant under Net Metering model for getting the cheap electricity generated from the solar plant for their use and to reduce the cost of electricity bills. Now, according to the new UPERC policy, due to the provision of gross metering instead of net metering, electricity produced from Solar Roof Top Plant will go directly to the grid and it will not be utilized by the Roof top owner hence Institutions will not take any interest in installing the Solar plant. We sincerely urge to the Uttar Pradesh government to direct the Electricity Regulatory Commission to implement the old system of net metering in Uttar Pradesh so that the investment in the solar field should be encouraged and Hon’ble PM Modi and Hon’ble CM Yogi Government Solar Mission could touch the heights of success with getting the cheap electricity to the Institution and encourage using solar power in the state.

Mr. Nikhil Nahar, Co-Founder & Director, SolarSquare Energy Private Limited

India has an ambitious target of 175 GWs of renewable energy by 2022 out of which 100 GWs is set to be completed through solar with 40 GWs likely to be accomplished through rooftop solar. However, present statistics show that we have merely crossed 30% of the solar target and touching 10% of rooftop solar. Slow run-rate needs an accelerated approach to meet the target.

While most states on-paper have conducive solar policies to allow grid connectivity for solar rooftop, some states have percolated clarity to implementation agencies while others still display disparity w.r.t. policy roll-out.

For instance, some leading states have recently announced encouraging moves:

1. Karnataka came up with a welcoming move to waive-off CEIG approval for up to 1 MW projects.

2. Tamil Nadu solar policy now permits LT consumers as well to go for solar, which was previously prohibited.

3. Rajasthan announced net-metering related favorable amendments for small solar gridinteractive systems. They have given definitive timelines which reduce the process to 25-30 days, as opposed to 3-6 months in certain states like Maharashtra.

4. Gujarat’s latest policy is promoting the development of small scale distributed solar PV sector

Wherein below list captures typical hurdles practically faced by installers in various states:

1. Policy: Policy-level gray-zones call for clarifications/ amendments viz. approval process for installations under non-net-metering scheme e.g. Maharashtra.

2. Awareness: Non-uniformity in the interpretation of terms such as MW/ MWp/ PF while processing applications e.g. Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh.

3. Approvals: Lack of procedural awareness among the authorities, offline application processes, lack of single window channels add to the bureaucracy/ delays e.g. Chattisgarh, Maharashtra.

4. Abrupt Changes: UP was in news recently for suddenly notifying the exclusion of C&I’s and public buildings from access to net-metering, which stalled/ delayed the installations. 5. Constraints: Gujarat still doesn’t allow 3rd party PPA’s for the solar rooftop projects. Tamil Nadu does not permit net-metering for HT consumers.

6. Competitive-notion: Some discoms directly/ indirectly discourage the adoption of solar, as they see solar as a competition directly affecting their business rather than a means to fulfill the RPO.

In summary, the proliferation of solar rooftop needs an inclusive approach for segments like residential, clarity on policy, awareness among stakeholders and pro-active approach in ground-level issue-resolution.

Mr. Vishwanath Kamath – Managing Director, Fronius India Private Limited

The current government has been trying to come out with supportive and encouraging stand to promote solar in its all-time best. It is quite evident from the way the target norms have been elevated to 175 GW to 2022. Also the norm of 500 GW target by 2030. Whereas if we ask sincerely if the ambitious energy and targets have reached out to the common man in terms of affordable, scalable, sustainable means, it’s a open ended question.

Solar has gone through lot of ups and downs, more aggressive scenario and cut throat market to where it has come now. From unbelievable EPC prices to revision of MNRE subsidy norms, it’s a total “Survival of the fittest” game.

Some of the quick market expectations from the government include – Timely subsidy with clear time bound release, Liasoning with discoms thereby enabling/facilitating the whole process, Promotion of residential rootop solar through better financing schemes and ways to reduce the burden of common man, net metering enabled for projects until 2 MW thereby the cap for project size sealing is taken off, nurture new entrants in the market who wish to execute EPC projects. Many new entrants have to perish from the market due to non-welcome scenario and don’t care attitude from the solar federation.

Also the government should emphasis on SPO (Solar purchase obligation) for all residential societies and industrial federation and should reward the ones who accomplish them. This would prove to be a great catalyst for the industry and nurture many to grow. Solar is possible !

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