Harnessing the power of Sun

Towards making Gurgaon a Solar City

Two recent announcements give renewed hope to the cause of making Gurugram a solar city. One is that the district has been allocated a large target of providing subsidy to the tune of 11 MW till March 2017 for grid connected rooftop systems. (The subsidy will be 30 per cent of the project cost or Rs 20,000 per Kw which ever is less). Two, the subsidy granting mechanism has been decentralized. The application will now be processed not by Haryana Renewable Energy Development Agency (HAREDA)’s Chandigarh office but by Additional District Commissioner, Gurugram who is also chief project officer, Renewable Energy, District, Gurugram. This is likely to expedite the process of availing subsidy. The subsidy is available to all types of residential buildings, schools, medical colleges and hospitals, health institutions, educational institutions, universities, welfare homes, old age homes, orphanages, NGOs etc in no particular order. Basically, except commercial and industrial consumers it is applicable to most sectors.    

Here are some ballpark figures for a quick check on how much solar capacity could be installed at your premises. A 1 KWp Rooftop Solar PV Power Plant can produce about 4-5 units per day.  The average Monthly Electricity Consumption of households is about 800 Units i.e.27 Units per day. For a typical 1 KWp Solar PV power plant, 80-100 square foot shadow-free area is required. If Rooftop has some permanent built objects such as water tanks etc., then elevated structure up to 5 meters height over the objects is allowed as per HUDA bylaws to mount the PV Modules. The benchmark cost of grid-connected rooftop solar PV plant without battery bank fixed by HAREDA is Rs 75,000 per kWp for 1-10 KWp. The payback period of installing solar is estimated to be 6 to 7 years.

Besides, rooftop solar is being installed under two financial models. One is the capital expenditure (CAPEX) in which the consumer makes his own investment in full or by partially availing loans from banks. The other model is Renewable Energy Supply Company (RESCO) model or rent your roof model where in a third party implements the facility at the roof and sells electricity from the rooftop to the consumer at a pre-determined rate. Under the RESCO model, subsidy cannot be availed. Subsidy also cannot be availed if the solar PV equipment has not been bought by approved channel partners or those listed as new entrepreneurs by Ministry of Non Renewable Energy (MNRE).

The net metering regulations from Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission (HERC) were out in November 2014 and were further fine tuned in July 2015. Net Metering  (operational in 12 states) ensures that consumers can become power exporters by installing net meters at their premises and exporting surplus power to the grid and get a discount on the power bill ( after offsetting exported units) from Dakshin Haryana Bidyut Vitaran Nigam Ltd (DHBVNL) . The administration has launched a “single-window” system for all clearances and approvals for subsidy, net metering etc located at Renewable Centre at Leisure Valley in Sector 29 in Gurugram.  The application for subsidy, net meters etc can be made online at www.hareda.gov.in.

Net metering is particularly useful for schools that can export solar power produced during the holidays and breaks and get a reduction in their bills. On top of the discounted bills for exporting, another incentive for those putting solar is a a Rs 1 per unit rebate ( for residential sector) and 0.25 paise per unit (on other sectors) on the gross amount of solar installed at the end of the financial year. A school in Gurugram that has switched to solar recently is Shiv Nadar School (under the Resco model). Some other schools that have adopted solar in the city are CCA School and Gyan Deeep School.  

Net meters have bi-directional flow of electricity and costs about Rs 10,000-20,000. Initially, consumers had to buy the meters and get them tested and approved by DHBVNL, but now they can be bought from DHBVNL directly. There have been some issues in implementing net metering. There were initially delays in selecting the meter companies; the three companies L&T, Securemeters and Genus have now been selected. Then there were delays in installing net meters as DHBVNL staff was not trained in this area. Now, the DHBVNL billing software has not been integrated with the realities of net metering and bills to customers with net metering were being distributed manually. This according to the DHBVNL officials will be upgraded within a month .   

Haryana is the second state after Tamil Nadu to have mandated the use of solar by buildings of and beyond 500 square yards. The new solar Policy of Haryana announced in 2016 targets to add 4,000 MW in the next five years of which 1600 MW will be added through solar rooftops.

Gurgaon is  lucky to be home to National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) located on Gurgaon Faridabad road dedicated to training and research in solar. The local administration has entered into an MoU with NISE to prepare detailed project reports (DPRs) at nominal rates of Rs 1,000 for 1kWp- 2 KWp plant. Early this year, the headquarters of the International Solar Alliance (a confederation of 121 countries for solar) has also come up at the NISE campus.

The policy focus, the large subsidy target, the single window clearances, net metering, the rebate on power, and decentralization should all help a long way in making Gurgaon a solar capital of India.

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