Indian total installed energy generation capacity stood at over 320 GW (326848.53 MW) on 31st March 2017. Although the country has added 93.5 GW of power generation capacity within its ‘12th Five Year Plan’, more than 4000 villages in the country still remain without access to electricity, and power failures still plague the ever demanding lifestyle of city dwellers. Statistics show a distinct energy generation deficit in Northern (-1.8%), Eastern (-10.3%), and North- Eastern regions (-8.3%) in India. Although, energy transmission solutions are being implemented with the help of initiatives like UDAY, facilitating the availability of electricity to the farthest corners of India is still work in progress. Therefore, to realize the ‘100 per cent village electrification by May 2018’ announcement by Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley, the country needs to opt for new initiatives to spread light to rural areas.
Solar Can Save The Day
Solar rooftop installation offers a simple, speedy, and feasible solution to energy problems in rural areas in India. And factoring in that more than 60 per cent of the population lives in the villages, it is a necessity for India to spread the green energy revolution to the rural parts to see comprehensive growth. Rooftop solar solutions (mini-grid, off grid installations) can help in illuminating the areas still un-electrified.
Growth in Rooftop Solar Sector
Policies and schemes offering custom duty concession, tax holidays, excise duty exemption, and accelerated depreciation, for commercial and industrial sectors, have led rooftop solar installations to rise from 72 MW per year to 227 MW per year. Currently standing with more than 1 GW capacity, rooftop solar industry in India is promising at least 75 per cent growth in 2017 over 2016. Tamil Nadu (132 MW) is currently leading the country in rooftop installations, while Gujarat (69 MW) and Maharashtra (89 MW), are making huge strides to utilize rooftop solar solutions.
Besides facilitating the growth in commercial and industrial sector, India has also focused on residential installations to bring the common man into the fold of the green energy revolution. Foreign investment commitments of more than USD1.5 billion in this sector, 30 percent capital subsidy to residential and not-for-profit institutional investors, and implementation of net-metering facilities (30 of the total 36 states and UTs have net-metering policies) have led to incredible growth in the residential rooftop solar industry.
Solar Rooftop is Feasible
Besides the Government support and global acceptance, solar rooftop has another trump card up its sleeve to woo common man into rooting for green energy revolution. Recent study has proven that solar rooftop utilization is more feasible than the expenses burdened by the diesel generators. And this feasibility is expected to help people into making the right decisions for an energy rich future. Diesel generators are primarily used in the rural areas where grid connectivity is rare or non-existent. However, cities suffering from power cuts also use these generators to keep the lights on. Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) based study shows that diesel generators cost INR 15-20 per unit of electricity, while rooftop solar can generate electricity at INR 5-6 per unit. This study carefully analysed the residential installations in and around Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, and UP; and it clearly portrays solar rooftop solutions in a brighter light supported by facts.
And Considering The NGO Proposals:
- To make rooftop solar installations mandatory for residential societies,
- Ban generator sets, as they are expensive and not pollution proof,
- Urging DISCOMS to support rooftop installation,
- Support towards usage of mini-grid, and off-grid solar installations for houses and communities;
It is easy to understand that off grid and mini-grid rooftop solar can be the best options for extensive electrification of India at a faster rate.
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has explained that installing rooftop solar plants can promise a better generation at a much feasible rate even in the rainy season. CSE is also working on putting up a website with solar calculator for people to easily calculate their cost to energy if they go solar. Such developments will surely help people make the right decision, saving money, and the environment, while illuminating their homes.