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Government has set up massive goals for solar power generation, Solar share being 100 GW out of 175GW from Renewable Energy. As it truly has a large potential for renewable energy and the in the coming years, India is set to be one of the largest solar power producers with the generation being used across Homes, Industries, agriculture, etc. Northeast being part of the journey keeping feet’s forward in achieving so.
The total capacity of Solar installed in India till date is nearly 40 GW and out of which 4 GW is Rooftop Solar Plants. In Northeast the need is to go for Maximum Rooftop Solar’s as the land over are here majorly fertile, giving very rare pieces of waste land in the all 8 states in Northeast. We need to actively increase the Rooftop installations overall, and Northeast can be a part of this as plenty rooftop are available with needs that can be fulfilled with Rooftop Solar’s easily. Such example is, Govt prepared and marching the people of NE with having targeted solar power capacity expansion of 590 MW by 2020 in the state of Assam by means of multiple models of solar power generation. And so forth for the other NE states.
Coming to rooftops, Roofs (typical Assam-type house commonly built in North-eastern India, due to weather and rains) are easily available with Metallic sheets, so the installations time is also less and easy to go for the Rooftop Solar. Peoples are needed to be educated more about solar and it is successful in NE too. Government have also worked since long for promoting Rooftop Solar to maximum extend through GOA/SNA’s/DISCOMS , and it can be seen in the tenders floated by the State’s major of them being Rooftop ones in every states of NE region recent examples are Assam state have floated tendered (Awarded & To Be Awarded) an approx of 17 MW as of Rooftop plants (On grid & Off Grid combined). Meghalaya actively working in the same with an approx. capacity of 6 MWp in the next coming few months rest of the 6 states too working fiercely with large rooftop solar installations.
Along with this large ground mounted projects are also being constructed where after evaluating every factors it was found that the installations are possible for benefits of the state and peoples, like in Assam already foundation stone of Ground mounted 70 MWp have been laid, Plant of 100 MWp & 25 MWp Capacity have been tendered in Assam to set up in OPEX with 25 years PPA. Other states too working on identifying such places where Ground mounting large projects will be feasible keeping in mind the environment.
The capacity of the solar parks shall be 500 MW at least for General states as per MNRE. However, smaller parks are also considered in States where there is shortage of non agricultural land like NE states, thus making it possible to implement these projects.
With PM KUSUM schemes being promoted, Farmers involving themselves (No. of farmers is large here) is the most important part so that benefit provided by the government is well utilised by them, utilising the power required for water pumps in day by Solar as the agricultural activity is carried out during day , helping in better progress of them with state progressing, further reducing T&D losses.
Along with this the projects floated by GOI & States have been working on Health centres too to get them with Solar Powered with energy storage for emergency situations/ blood banks, on Police stations and other needy places. As north-eastern states are always surrounded by natural calamities / heavy rain the tress is there a lot & make damages to the power lines and thus creating issue for short while no matter how hard the Power department works day in day out.
And other alternatives are also looked upon, like there are large water bodies in NE. And tapping the power from Floating seems to be a viable option too when we have land constraints. Some pilot floating plants have been installed, and recently APDCL (Assam Utility) has also floated tender for floating solar, and there is huge capacity to be tapped from floating in NE. Once installed these projects will further speak themselves with live examples and further implementations in other states/places will be much easier.
Furthermore, local developers need to come up to be a part of this green energy movement – Install, Manage and Operate these plants to its maximum efficiency. Skilled labours are needed to be devolved more; they will be the main backbone to run these plants in long run effectively. And continuous investment in the technologically advanced components like focus on MPPT Inverters/ Structures/ Higher efficiency Modules are needed to get the best generations & to decrease the BOS costs and make the whole exercise to be fruitful. In addition, net-metering regulations have been notified by respective state regulatory commissions of these States & Rooftop solar policies have also been notified by States. Making it easier to implement the projects, constant support like this is needed from the Govt end to make it possible.
Thus, clearly northeast is marching toward the green movement will increasing its Solar PV Plant capacity and complementing its title of “where sunlight hits first in India” with starting the solar generation of the day in India.
Fever of ‘Solar’ is gradually taking momentum in the North East, although it is still behind the national average. The state nodal agencies are taking initiatives with the schemes (subsidy) from MNRE to increase The and popularize the ‘solar rooftop in the north east’. Almost every states in the north east are working on solar rooftop and other solar projects. However, the achievement ratio of these schemes need further improvement. The major factors affecting the same are –
- The ecosystem needs to develop further. The grid power is very erratic in most of the places except for the capital towns. This is a challenge for promoting ‘grid-connected solar rooftop’ where subsidy is available today. The users in those places looks for an ‘off-grid’ system but non availability of subsidy in ‘off-grid’ works as a deterrent factor. Therefore, the subsidy should be extended for small off-grid system (up to 5KW max.) ELSE the Govts./ DISCOM should ensure stable grid so that public can take benefit of MNRE subsidy.
- Resources – availability of trained manpower, local warehouse, good quality mounting structures (GI), DC cables, connectors etc. are very critical factors for its growth.
- The awareness among people is one major factor. Due to the weather conditions there is a perception that solar solutions cannot work properly in NE. But the fact is that the average Solar Insolation/ radiation of NE is 3.5 to 4.5 kWh/m2 /d per square meter. This is lower than the national average but higher than many countries in the world who are effectively using solar energy today. So there is a need for creating awareness by way of commercial advertisements, exhibitions etc.
- Awareness and availability of finance are two very important factors in the growth of industrial and commercial solar rooftop in NE.
The most relevant factor that have ruled Solar Rooftop Installations is size of Government Procurement. Though recently small number of projects have come from private sector but they mostly have been from big Industries who installed them as a part of their centralized procurement. So, Government has to include more renewable energy projects in their procurement.
A large scale public awareness campaign from all stakeholder could boost the movement which is missing till date.
Increased availability of skilled man power will remove the hindrances faced in a quality solar system installation. Also being a solar technician will become a source of mass employment in the region.
Government’s emphasis on ON GRID system should change to Hybrid Systems specially for northeast Region as the region have an acute power shortage.
Further, Technical specifications should be different with higher module size for the North east due to less solar irradiation hours in the region. This is an important factor as with reduced module wattage, batteries do not charge and most systems fail in course of time.
I would also like to suggest Government to allow 50% of the allowed subsidy to Commercial and Industrial Sector in Northeast Region to promote Solar and other renewable energy sources. It will act as a catalyst for mass installations in the region. Local Discoms can also allow a rebate on electrical tariff to people installing solar rooftops without subsidy including both residential and Industrial beneficiaries to promote the installations.
- We have seen that in recent years the growth of solar energy domain in North East markets had been phenomenal due to active support shown by government policies including Subsidized solar system installation programmes.
- There is an utmost need of increase in Domestic manufacturing units of raw materials, components and products to cut down import duty expenses on PV solar modules. There is also a lack of closer industry government co operation for the technology to achieve scale.
- Newly incorporated enterprises / entrepreneurs should be given a platform to be empaneled by the Government.
- Increase in state’s Investment in research and development of this technology would play a vital role towards the goal.
- Focus should also be given to solar power park. State should also boost solar projects spread on the canal Branches of our mighty river.
It has been seen that, the Northeast India has been adopting renewable energy at a very fast pace. India as a hole is also emerging in the global arena as a leading producer of renewable energy. In its efforts to move further towards sustainable development, the government of India has set certain target to achieve by the end of 2022 and Northeast India too is contributing its part to this national target.
The solar journey stated at Northeast start a little late then the other state, whatever the reason was, but today northeast India is all geared up to give a better and greener energy to the people of this part of the country. To make solar energy popular among the masses was to make the people understand how easy and effective it is to generate power and the best way was to show them how power can be generated from their own roofs, this is how the journey started at northeast with all the Nodal agencies of all the northeast state started working hand to hand with MNRE and stated to promote and generate solar power from rooftops, Nodal agencies in the state of Assam, Manipur , Meghalaya had been quiet instrumental in making rooftop solar reach to the masses and efforts are on to further make it big, that day is not far off when we would see solar power run northeast.
Lots have to be still worked into to make Rooftop solar area, it has been seen that EPC contractors in northeast has to get each and every thing from outside northeast which is time consuming, extra money needed on transportation, geographical weather constrain, that’s the reason why northeast India need manufactures that can make materials ready to contactors on time and better price. More financial institutions should come forward to give financial assistance to customers in for of loan to set up RTS plants at nominal rate of interest. All these state has subsidies offered up to 70% in residential, Institutional and social sectors, but that not enough certain subsidy should be offered to the industrial sector as well, so that bigger rooftop plants can come in.
The tomorrow looks very bright for northeast and with so much of effort going in by the people of this part of the country northeast will lit bright and contribute its part to the notional building.