Reading Time: 7 minutes
From 150 MW of solar there is a long way to reach the target of 1870 MW for Kerala by 2022. Repeating the same programs with minor changes in subsidies cannot yield desirable results. ANERT, the SNA, during my tenure (2016-18) has attempted the following programs, aimed at creating an enabling ecosystem for RE promotion in Kerala, almost all of them attempted for the first time in the country. Through our persistent intervention, KSEBL has come forward with the target of achieving a total of 1000 MW solar in next 3 years (announced by Hon. CM); 500 MW RTS, with KSEBL venturing into take up RESCO mode implementation also. 1817 numbers of field functionaries of KSEBL trained in grid connected solar system through 56 numbers of 2-day training programs, by ANERT in 2017-18.
a) e-marketplace to purchase quality products (vetted by ANERT) – http://www.buymysun.com, launched on 5th June 2018 by Hon. CM; eligible subsidy to customers through DBT; 10% discount for the first Rs 20 crore business [(a) to (e) – aligned with Digital India]
b) m-ANERT – mobile app for feasibility investigation & inspections (provision for all stakeholders to login – CEIG, KSEBL, ANERT & vendors)
c) Programme Management System – online portal for processing grid connected systems; seamless integration with digital platforms of KSEBL & CEIG in progress
d) Souraveedhi – mobile app to gather geo-tagged details of RE systems already installed
e) Free one year insurance to such systems and RE technicians
f) Steps initiated to train/accredit technicians and inspectors (QP & certification by Skill Council for Green Jobs)
g) Urja Mithra – repair & service centres set up in all 140 assembly constituencies with CRM & ticketing [(f) & (g) – aligned with Skilling India]
h) Local self-governments providing subsidy to the needy
i) New technology demonstration programmes – solar-wind hybrid with storage solutions initiated, with indigenous inverter [Make in India]
Solar Rooftop is considered as the most efficient power plant proposal mainly because of three reasons; it is renewable energy, reduces the transmission losses to the bare minimum level as the power production and major part of the consumption are in the same premises, can avoid the requirement of bare land. Kerala being a small state with high population, can be termed as a semi-urban area which indicates the number of households and buildings are more and the vacant land is minimal. This is a hurdle to increase its solar capacity through MW scale plants and at the same time an opportunity for the Solar Rooftop market
Travelling across the state, we can find the numbers of residential buildings are large in count and decent in size. The medium sized commercial spaces are very frequent compared to any other parts of the country. The living standard of people is in line with semi-urbanised community with good in-house facilities which demands the electricity consumption of an average household to 10-25 units per day. The Retail, Hospitality and Healthcare industries consuming major part of the commercial space need to provide high end amenities to attract their consumers which take their power bills to a considerable expense head. The buildings owned by government departments have already started installing solar rooftops under the policy decision but still this market has a huge potential to explore.
Though the market opportunity available is interestingly lucrative, the rooftops industry was moving in slow pace till first quarter of last FY due various issues including statutory approvals. However since then the industry has gained its momentum and is posting substantial growth rate now contributed by upward movement in electricity bills, end-toend project propositions and affordable pricing from EPC players. The efforts of ANERT and KREEPA (Kerala Renewable Energy Entrepreneurs and Promoters Association) have helped in creating the awareness on availability of quality products and responsible service to the general public.
With the given conditions, the solar rooftop market of Kerala seems very promising and a comprehensive approach with quality products and reliable service provisions can tap this potential to the best level.
The national renewable energy target for 2022 has allocated a target of 800 MW solar rooftop to Kerala but the state has achieved a cumulative capacity of only 41.36 MW at the end of August 2019 which is just 5 % of the target to be achieved. Kerala being a consumer state with high willingness to pay for quality power, it is a potential market for rooftop solar which has been hitherto unexplored by the state DISCOM for various reasons. Recent developments with the Kerala DISCOM’s ambitious ‘Soura’ project which targets 200 MW of rooftop solar by the end of the current financial year has created a mixed wave in the market of both scepticism and enthusiasm. In the past years, subsidised roof top programs with a sanctioned capacity of 10 MW per year run by the state nodal agency ANERT has failed to incentivise the market to supply beyond the limits of the subsidy scheme but the revised CFA program, for which the state DISCOM has been made the responsible agency for the implementation of rooftop solar projects, has also not cleared up doubts about the potential for market expansion outside the spectrum of registered customers under the ‘Soura’ scheme.
The present ‘Soura’ project of the DISCOM needs to be restricted to government buildings and to allow private sector players to tap into the huge potential of commercial, industrial and domestic customers who can afford Capex model projects. Since the state has the lowest AT&C losses, the DISCOM can assure investors and bankers on the ease of doing business and through a single window framework. To further explore solar rooftop potential, Kerala’s state regulatory commission must allow commercial and industrial consumers to invest in rooftop solar on third party premises with standard wheeling charges. Kerala being a state with scarcity of land, it can tackle this limitation by allowing third party buildings to install solar energy. Further, group solar installations at larger marketplaces can allow small scale commercial customers to derive the benefit of solar energy at lower tariff with less upfront capital cost. With the move towards the RESCO model, Kerala needs further discussions with stakeholders on overcoming the challenges of land scarcity, high labour, high cost of balance of system components, rapid climate change with increased rainy days and flood threats, and zero financing. Once we tackle these challenges, RESCO models can thrive in the market.