Indian states come around to promoting Solar Rooftop Installations after being fixated on ground mount plants
Indian states have finally come around to supporting rooftop solar home plants, instead of just megawatt solar ground farms.
Though the support is quite small the beginning is quite auspicious. Note the Indian federal and state governments have this very strange fixation with ground hogging large plants. These plants have problems in raising finance, getting clearances, land acquisition etc. However, governments in India have persisted with this strategy. Now some of the southern states like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are starting to support home solar installations. According to a news report, AP will also give a feed in tariff in addition to helping with a capital subsidy for rooftop solar plants.
The Indian power sector is a massive mess of government incompetence which has resulted in large scale power brownouts on a daily basis. The state governments are now turning to solar energy to get some relief, with Tamil Nadu announcing a target of 1 GW of solar energy per year. However, ground mounted plants in Europe faced a problem as they used up precious land and led to profiteering by financers. We have advocated supporting mostly rooftop solar plants in India but the government have followed the playbook of other countries along with its attendant mistakes.
The main issue with rooftop solar plants is not money but the bureaucratic hassles in getting approvals and subsides. Though the net metering proposal is laudable, the government needs to ensure that the utilities playball by providing meters and subsidies on time. Just giving subsidies on paper won’t help.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Rooftop Solar vs Large Ground Mounted Solar Plants
1) Long Delays in Permitting, Environment Clearance,Land Siting – Large Solar Farms have to go through a myriad of regulations and clearances. There have also been instances of lawsuits against solar thermal and solar pv plants in California by wildlife and environmental groups as well as local Indian tribes.
2) Electricity Transmission Costs – Grid Connection leads to additional costs for solar farms while rooftop solar can use existing transmission infrastructure.
3) Less Grid Stability – A Large Part of Distributed Solar is consumed locally while farms supply 100% to the grid. That makes managing the grid difficult when solar penetration increases.
1) Lower Cost and Scale – The greater scale of these plants allows lower installations compared to smaller installations. The costs are reduced in permitting, maintenance as well
2) Use of Disturbed Land – Solar Farms can be built on disturbed land like in Germany where they have been built on former airbases.
3) Utility Friendly – Large Solar Farms are controlled by utilities or IPPs while rooftop solar is generally in the ownership of residential owners or commercial owners.This results in less pushback from utilities which generally control transmission and allow easier acceptance of solar energy.
The Andhra Pradesh Government. People can sell surplus, if any, to the grid and make money at Rs 3.50 a unit.
The State Government, which is grappling with a severe power shortage this year, will come out with a Government order, providing 50 per cent subsidy to people to set up one kW solar plants. This subsidy includes 30 per cent support from the Centre.“It costs about Rs 80,000 to set up a one-kilowatt unit. An average household can save about 10-30 per cent of power they generate. Under this initiative, we will set up a metre to monitor net usage by plant owners and the quantum of power they contribute to the grid,” M. Kamalakar Babu, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of NEDCAP, told Business Line. “If you can contribute 100 units a month, you will get Rs 350 at Rs 3.50 a unit. Instead of bothering about power cuts, you can address the problem,” he said.
Earlier addressing a gathering after the launch of eFresh portal’s information window on solar energy on Saturday, he said the solar power generation momentum had picked up in the State.