The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) introduced revisions on their Solar Policy 2016, adding group net-metering and a virtual net-metering framework. Understanding the importance of rooftop solar energy growth for the country, this policy is expected to encourage people to opt for commercial, industrial and residential solar rooftop solutions, even without having a suitable roof to install solar energy system.
This can be considered as a decisive decision for a country that is trying to phase out fossil fuel and adopt green energy solutions championing solar power.
What is Virtual Net-Metering?
Virtual net-metering can be considered as an arrangement where people without suitable roof can get access to solar energy and enjoy solar net-metering facility. In these agreements, the solar energy system in question is generally collectively owned and generates power that is fed into the grid. The meter attached to this connection will record the consumed and exported energy levels from and to the grid, thus satisfying demand for all connected to the system while offering credits to the electricity bill as well.
Although, this facility would be available for the government entities at the beginning, consumers would later be given the opportunity to apply to the distribution company (DISCOM) with a fee of ₹1,000 for such connection. The policy informs that DISCOMs will be paying for installation of Smart meters and the bills will clearly list the imported, exported and carried forward energy units to maintain clarity, thus raising awareness and building trust between DISCOM and consumers.
There is also no restriction on intra DISCOM or inter DISCOM transfer of surplus energy, which will create better energy management and satisfy demand. This policy is expected to support in reaching state’s renewable purchase obligation (RPO) targets. Although, Delhi is under a lot of pressure to adopt green energy due to its rising pollution levels, if implemented correctly, group and virtual net metering could be a model for other cities to follow.
Current Scenario and Opportunity
Countries like- Germany, some states in USA like California have proven that rooftop solar energy can be made into a progressive solar power sector, allowing people to generate their power directly and minimize their electricity bill. We are all well aware of California’s recent mandate to install solar panels in all new residential buildings. These actions prove how aggressively these countries are moving towards complete solarisation, by encouraging rooftop solar adoption.
Following the footsteps, Government of India is focusing on the rooftop solar to raise awareness and to involve common man into the fold. However, even states like Delhi that were expected to show great performance, and had solar energy potential of 2 GW, surprisingly the city has only installed 35.9 MW of solar rooftop capacity. And about 3 MW of that capacity is from residential installations.
However, it is also important to note that Delhi had welcomed bids for 35 MW rooftop solar power projects. And with Net-metering schemes (36 states and UTs in India have identified and in different stages of implementation), consumers can sell the excess energy to the grid, becoming energy reliant, and virtual net-metering removing the obstacle of making hefty initial investment to install solar panels on the roof, the chances for growth rise.
Delhi Is Moving Towards Growth, Other States Should Too
Delhi government is showing great initiative to push solar energy adoption rate with new policies and incentives for the consumers. Mukhyamantri Solar Power Program, Solar Rooftop Demand Aggregation Program are a few of the initiatives that are supporting the state. And these will definitely help Delhi to raise its solar energy capacity. And considering that Indian states falling behind in meeting RPO target for years (5 years to be exact) now, and country’s rooftop solar energy capacity at 3 GW, this is high time for other states to adopt such initiatives that support rooftop solar for faster growth of rooftop solar power sector, which has enormous potential of engaging and common man and raise awareness.