Rooftop solar: Centre for greater discom role in achieving targets

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Updated: August 22, 2019 7:02:58 AM

The government, in February, had approved the second phase of the "grid-connected rooftop and small solar power plants programme" for achieving cumulative capacity of 40 GW rooftop capacity by 2022.

rooftop solar, solar energy, discom, renewable energy, discom role, rooftop solar power plant, rooftop solar system, rooftop solar panelKarnataka ranks first in the index that evaluates states based on their attractiveness for rooftop development. Telangana, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh have got second, third and fourth rank respectively. (Reuters Photo)

To promote rooftop solar (RTS) across the country, the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) has directed state-owned power distribution companies (discoms) to be more proactive in achieving the government’s target. In its latest guidelines for the second phase of the grid connected rooftop programme, the MNRE said that discoms would be “at forefront as key drivers for rapid deployment of RTS” and these entities “should create customer friendly environment by making enabling provisions in their regulations and smooth approval process required for RTS.”

The government, in February, had approved the second phase of the “grid-connected rooftop and small solar power plants programme” for achieving cumulative capacity of 40 GW rooftop capacity by 2022. The first phase of the rooftop solar program, which aimed to add 4,200 MW of such capacity by FY20, has not shown much promise with the current installed rooftop solar capacity standing at around 1,709 MW only.

As FE reported earlier, discoms’ apathetic approach coupled with the lack of appropriate financing options available in the market are seen to be impeding the uptake of rooftop solar in the country. Discoms tend to see rooftop solar primarily as a threat, fearing that it would lead to them losing paying clients. Rooftop solar suppliers often complain about discoms in several states deliberately having complex approval processes for solar rooftops.

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‘It’s a good initiative on part of government to make discoms responsible for rooftop solar capacity addition,” said Shravan Sampath, CEO, Oakridge Energy which is a rooftop solar installer. “However, removing central financial assistance for institutions (schools, colleges and NGOs) is a bit premature in our opinion, as a lot of capacity addition can be achieved in this area.”

The latest phase of the RTS program provides central financial assistance (CFA) of up to 40% of the benchmark cost for installation of rooftop solar up to 3 kW capacity and at 20% of benchmark cost for plant capacity from 3kWp to 10 kWp for residential sector consumers only. Further, the program also provides CFA upto 20 % of benchmark cost for group housing societies and resident welfare associations for supply of power to common facilities. While Rs 6,600 crore had been earmarked towards CFA for residential sector, Rs 4,950 crore was designated as “incentives to discoms”.

On Wednesday, power minister RK Singh launched the ‘state rooftop solar attractiveness index’ which, the minister said, “would incentivise rooftop solar by creating healthy competition among the states”.

Karnataka ranks first in the index that evaluates states based on their attractiveness for rooftop development. Telangana, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh have got second, third and fourth rank respectively. Singh asked all discoms to adopt the best practices being followed by top ranking states.

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