With 513 MW of capacity addition within the last 12 months, the Indian rooftop solar industry has surpassed the 1 GW mark. This development shows more than 113 per cent growth rate over 2015. Drastically falling PV module prices (12 per cent per annum in last four years) played a major role in such growth; while Government backed policies (both at centre and state levels), supporting this industry has a huge contribution in itself. The government’s continuous focus on developing rooftop capacity, is promising to offer at least 75 per cent growth (standing at 1.1 GW capacity) in 2017 over 2016.
Tamil Nadu (132 MW), Maharashtra (89 MW) and Gujarat (69 MW rooftop capacity) are leading India in terms of total installed rooftop solar capacity. Net metering policies, which can bring the common man in the fold and enhance rooftop solar installation, have incredibly progressed in India. 30 of the total 36 states and UTs in India have been identified to have net-metering policies. Rooftop focus in India was previously directed towards industrial and commercial sectors, which explains why 63 per cent of the nation’s installed capacity comes from commercial and industrial installations. However, India is now carefully targeting residential consumers to increase acceptability and enhance capacity.
Making US$1.5 billion fund available for grid connected rooftop development was indeed a calculated part played by State Bank of India (SBI), Punjab National Bank (PNB), Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), in collaboration with World Bank. Foreign investment with domestic efforts to provide INR 5k Crore (in early 2016) and 16k Crore (in mid 2016) have helped states in India to install rooftop solar plants with ease.
Grid Connected Rooftop and Small Solar Power Plants Programme (in June 2014) has led solar PV in residential, community, institutional, industrial and commercial establishments. The scheme offers not just PV modules, but also options to easily get inverters, meters, cables, support structures, minimum battery required, and charge controllers as a packaged deal. This has made the deal much lucrative for rooftop installers. Besides residential, commercial and industrial rooftop, industry is still going to enjoy continuous Government support in 2017.
Now let us look at the residential, commercial and industrial rooftop policies of a few states in India.
- Residential Rooftop solar policy in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Haryana, and Rajasthan allows a maximum of 1 MWp capacity installation, while the minimum requirement is 1 kWp. Industrial installations follow the same guideline with one exception for Haryana, which allows <1 MWp capacity installations.
- Conditions for residential and industrial installations offer 100% of your Sanctioned Load for all four states. However, cumulative capacity of all solar systems installed in your area is not allowed to exceed 30% of distribution transformer capacity in Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan, while, it is 40 per cent and 15 per cent for Maharashtra and Haryana respectively.
- The policy offers exemption from banking, wheeling & cross subsidy charges in Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan while Haryana has introduced mandates on both residential and commercial solar sector. For residential buildings having plot size more than 500 sq. yards, it is mandatory to install 3% to 5% capacity of their Sanctioned load on solar. And for commercial sector, it is mandatory for complexes, Offices, Malls, etc. (existing as well as new buildings) to get 3% to 5% capacity of their connected Load from solar (if their connected Load is near or above 50 Kw). In Haryana no permission is required from the building plan sanctioning authority for setting up of Rooftop solar power plants (residential/ commercial/industrial). In the same vein, Tamil Nadu adds that electricity generated by the rooftop solar system shall not be more than 90% of the electricity consumption at the end of the settlement period for residential and industrial sector.
- 30% subsidy (for residential) on the cost of solar system from MNRE (Central Government) through State Nodal Agency subject to approval & availability of funds is norm for all three states. However, Subsidy of INR 20,000/kWp is available from Tamil Nadu Government, for 1 kWp plants only for domestic consumers of Tariff category (LT-IA) for grid connected systems.
- Additionally, all three states offer up to INR 10 lacs loan for solar (for residential) as a part of home loan/home improvement under Priority sector lending. For industrial or commercial installations, there is 40% Accelerated Depreciation, Custom Duty concessions and Excise Duty Exemptions on solar equipment, 10 year Tax holiday on solar projects, Loans available for up to INR 15 Crore for renewable energy projects under Priority sector lending.
Progressive policies and recent news on Indian rooftop industry vouches for the efforts of Indian Government and private players, the two primary forces behind Indian solar growth. Local administration, corporations and city authorities are also taking encouraging initiatives to help increase use of clean solar power:
- Rajkot district administration has made it mandatory to install rooftop solar power units in all new buildings.
- Announcement of near about 70 percent subsidy to consumers in Port Blair if they select rooftop plants.
- Rajkot district administration has made it mandatory to install rooftop solar power units in all new buildings coming up in Rajkot district including six municipalities and villages which falls under Rajkot Urban Development Authority.
- Telengana Government is thinking about bringing EMI scheme for individual rooftop solar users, getting in to discussions with banks to draft loan schemes to cut down fossil fuel usage.
- Haryana Government taking the step to make Solar Power Systems Mandatory For Private Schools, granting INR 20,000 per kilowatt to install solar plants.
- Delhi Govt. implementing its rooftop solar policy in place from April onwards along with a list of 75 government-certified vendors to choose from
- The Lucknow Municipal Corporation will soon make 200 bus stops in various parts of the city solar energy operated
- The Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) plans to install rooftop solar panels at its main administrative buildings
- The Kerala State Higher Education Department has been planning to install solar panels in all universities, government engineering colleges and polytechnics and a few of the government colleges under its jurisdiction
- Mysuru division of the South Western Railway (SWR) will soon have about 20 railway stations fuelled by solar energy
These news highlights prove that Government and local administration/authorities support has initiated a change that will revolutionize the country and bring power to all. However, more efforts in raising consumer awareness can go a long way in adding value to the results. Although, radio and television media are being used to inform people about the benefits of going solar, bringing in the Nodal agencies, organizing campaigns in education institutions, giving specifics on quality, cost, and details of metering, can help raise mass awareness that will translate into a quicker green energy shift.