Rooftops as energy farms

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SummaryGujarat has launched a pilot project where rooftops of homes and commercial establishments are being rented out to generate solar power that is fed into the state grid, translating into a source of income for property owners and greening electricity production

This is space utilisation at its best — using the terraces of residential and commercial buildings to generate solar power. In a novel initiative, Gujarat has commissioned two pilot projects in the state capital Gandhinagar, each generating 5 MW of solar power and is working towards extending this to five more cities over the next few months.

The cities of Vadodara, Mehsana, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Surat will together take Gujarat’s solar rooftop power project capacity to 30MW. “These projects are still at a nascent stage,” says Rajendra Mistry senior executive (projects), Gujarat Power Corporation (GPCL), which is the nodal agency mandated by the state government for setting up solar power projects.

MICRO GENERATION

GPCL has invited bidders to buy the ‘request for proposal’ (RFP) documents for these five solar roof-top projects. The two pilot projects in the state capital have been developed under a public-private-partnership (PPP) model in collaboration with Azure Sun Energy India and Sun Edison.

“The successful implementation of the PPP transactions for the two Gandhinagar pilot projects, prompted the government to replicate the roof-top solar project in five other cities of Gujarat,” government sources say. The International Finance Corporation, an arm of the World Bank is advising the government on the roll-out of these projects.

The Gandhinagar project is the first of its kind in the country, and aims to become a benchmark for green energy generation at the household-level.

Under the scheme, the solar rooftop project developer will build, finance, own, operate and maintain the solar photovoltaic system units, all of which will be connected to the state electricity grid.

The project developers will rent rooftops from housing societies and commercial establishments, put up the solar units and sell the power to the state electricity distribution company, Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam and its subsidiaries.

The project mandates that distribution companies would purchase this solar power from the developers for 25 years.

There is a huge gain in store for the landlord who rents out his rooftop. Under the scheme, the owners will earn a ‘green incentive’ calculated on a per-unit basis of power generated from the sun, translating into a direct source of income that would be paid on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.

For the pilot project in Gandhinagar, a sum of R3 per unit of solar power generated is paid as ‘green incentive’ and has roped in the terraces of private homes, commercial buildings and government property.

THE MECHANICS

The photovoltaic modules (consisting

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