New net-metering policy to power Gujarat's solar-rooftops

Written by Avinash Nair | Ahmedabad | Updated: Jan 26 2014, 02:34am hrs
In order to provide the necessary fillip roof-top solar power projects sector in Gujarat, the state government will be introducing a new "net-metering policy" in 2-3 weeks, that will provide better financial incentives to solar-power generating households.

"We have prepared this policy and we hope to declare it before the Lok Sabha elections are announced," DJ Pandian, principal secretary (energy), Government of Gujarat told The Indian Express on the sidelines of a seminar on "Solar Energy in India' organised by the Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA) on Saturday.

Under this new policy, Gujarat government proposes to introduce "Net-Metering" for power consumers in the state. Net metering is an electricity policy --- similar to the ones introduced by Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh or Uttarakhand --- for utility customers who operate their own "self-generation" photovoltaic systems at their residences.

"So, if a household consumes 200 units of electricity and generates 100 units through the solar panel on their roof-tops, they will have to pay for the remaining 100 units. In case, if a house produces more than their requirement (at any given point in time), the power will go to the grid," said Pandian while explaining the new net-metering policy that is expected to be announced in the next 2-3 weeks.

Under this policy an electricity meter, that measures the power utilised by the household from the grid, and the power supplied (from the solar-rooftop) to the grid, will be installed in homes.

Gujarat government in 2010 had started the Gandhinagar rooftop solar programme and had approved the installation of rooftop solar panels up to a capacity of 5 MW across the state capital. In absence of a net-metering policy, the Gujarat government along with solar power companies had been providing individual homes in Gandhingar (under a pilot project), a green incentive of Rs 3 for every unit of power generated by photovoltaic systems installed on rooftops of households.

The net-metering system is expected to make solar rooftop projects more attractive to individual households, especially in the new towns and cities in Gujarat where the project is yet to pick up. As per the Census 2011, there are about 16,000 households in Gujarat that use solar energy as a primary source to illuminate their homes.

"The next revolution in solar power is not utility connected power, but solar power produced on roof-tops," the state government official said taking about the huge potential the segment held.

Pandian also spoke about how ITI students needed to be trained in managing and repairing these solar panels and systems so as to ensure that the roof-tops across Gujarat continue to generate power.

Apart from Gandhinagar, solar roof-top projects have been floated for the cities of Vadodara, Mehsana, Surat (5 MW each), Rajkot (6.5 MW) and Bhavnagar (3.5 MW).