SOLAR VS DISCOMS: LEARNING FROM NET METERING SAGA OF ROOFTOP SOLAR IN MAHARASHTRA

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Jayant Mhetar CEO, Ztric India Pvt Ltd

The government’s proposal to switch from net metering to net billing systems for commercial and industrial rooftop solar power projects has created uncertainty about Rooftop solar projects and the commercial viability of the projects. Current proposal is in direct conflict with Solar Mission and Rooftop Solar Target. So we expect a unified policy from the Central and State Government which meets the goals of Environment, Employment, and Renewable Energy. A long term Solar policy is recommended, in the absence of which, Solar policy customers are not going to commit to Rooftop Solar Projects. We are not going to meet our Renewable Energy Targets nor our Environmental goals.

Below are the recommendations that can help to build a healthy solar rooftop sector.Coordination Between Government Departments

  • Climate change is a proven fact. Global warming has caused serious changes to the planet. But, as individuals, we can slow down global warming by implementing small more sustainable actions within our community. We need to take concrete actions NOW to reduce the impact of climate change on future generations.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change needs to set ambitious Renewable Energy goals with the Ministry of Power to achieve it’s Climate Change Target.
  • India initiated the International Solar Alliance of 121 countries to promote Solar Energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels, But India is far away from achieving its own Goal.
  • Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises launched a very good initiative of Surya Mitra to provide solar technical skills with the potential to create a workforce of 7 Lakh people in the Solar industry.

Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises launched a very good initiative of Surya Mitra to provide solar technical skills with the potential to create a workforce of 7 Lakh people in the Solar industry.

Employment

  • Ground-mounted 20MW solar plant maintenance gives employment to 10 people. 20MW in the rooftop sectors gives employment to 200+ people with many small enterprises providing services cleaning, repair, and maintenance
  • Based on MSME estimates, Rooftop Solar has the potential to create 7 lakh jobs. Employment opportunities for those skilled technicians will significantly be reduced without a viable Solar Industry.

Currently, DISCOMs are treating Solar Plants as a threat to their business. We cannot afford this wrong perception. Renewable Energy / Solar Energy is the need of the hour to fight Climate change and We need DISCOMs to embrace Renewable Energy including Solar Energy.

To sum up

  • NetMeter policy should not change till we achieve 75% of the Solar Mission Goal ( 40GW rooftop solar in India by the year 2022)
  • Central Government and State Governments should Provide compensation to DISCOM for basic infrastructure utilization.
  • DISCOM can charge consumers, having rooftop solar plants, wheeling charges for all units exported from Solar System into the Grid, considering (Wheeling Loss, Transformer Infrastructure cost ) borne by DISCOM.
  • MNRE should give subsidy directly to DISCOM instead of the individual consumer for rooftop solar installation.
Sahil Kejriwal CEO & MD, GSE Renewables India Pvt. Ltd.

Net Billing, if implemented might be a Death Knell of the entire rooftop industry in Maharashtra. While there are a lot of stances being taken, technically and policy wise, it is quite anti-solar. It would mean that our state policies are not consistent with the sentiments of the top bureaucracy which is pushing for Renewable energy. There are no real logical or technical answers which resolves and gives the support to implement the Grid support charges. As per the electricity act of 2003 the generation of electricity is not a licensed activity. Putting in a grid Support Charge effectively means creating a license, so in reality this is completely against the Constitution or so to a large extent. We do feel that the policy should be supportive towards Discom but a balance has to be created such that there is enough savings for the Offtaker/Consumer. And also it enables to create a win-win situation for both the Discom as well as the Consumer. These policies create a lot of derailment and delays in the implementation of Renewable Energy which is putting undue stress with project delays as well as overhead runs on Developers and EPCs which is making the business nonviable and very difficult. We do recommend a faster Policy implementation Cycle with quicker closures and clarity which will help Solar and enable it to grow as a Business. It will definitely keep the animal spirit alive in the Entrepreneurs.

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