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Cover Story | November 2015

Give sops, attract solar gear makers into India

Jaideep N. Malaviya, CEO, Malaviya Solar Energy Consultancy

What challenges have to be ironed for growth of the industry?
The government has not given enough attention for the manufacturing industry by way of easy finance and availability for long term. If manufacturing is attracted in India under ´Make in India´ initiative with liberal policies for multinationals, then the target seems doable. Else, it will be foreign suppliers who will harvest maximum profits.

How much will the government initiatives help the industry?
Mandatory compliance to meet at least 10 per cent of energy for any dwelling with rooftop and long-term PPA from Discoms will be the ideal bet to ensure solar PV rooftop attracts investment. Land availability will be the biggest hindrance for large scale projects and under such situation rooftop will be a safe option, besides it also helps in reducing transmission losses.

What are the advantages of rooftop solar?
Rooftop systems offer the biggest advantage of free land. Besides the generated power is consumed at the point of generation, thus reducing the transmission losses vastly. It is helpful for shaving peak demands.

How do you see rooftop solar panning out in the future?
India´s solar energy market, especially solar PV has grown from a meagre 2 MW in January 2010 to a little over 3,500 MW, which is the fastest in the world. Against the targeted 100 GW by 2022, 40 GW is to be achieved from decentralised and rooftop-scale solar projects. The vast reservoir of solar radiation of about 4-6 kWh/m2/day for around 300 days in a year makes India the ideal platform to harness solar energy. There will, however, be required liberal approach from utility companies for easier feeding in the grid to make it a workable model.

How do solar installation and production costs compare with conventional techniques?
Any renewable energy system calls for initial capital, but very minimal recurring costs. Comparatively grid power or diesel power has high running costs. As already mentioned, liberal financing policies from banks and financial institutions is the best remedy. There is also a need to encourage Energy Service Company (ESCO) model in the country so as to reach the masses in every nook and corner.

What kind of pricing is offered by SEBs?
Presently, Bengaluru Electric Supply Company has the best policy and offers the highest tariff of `9.95/kWh and also assure to buy all the excessive power. Other states have policies that are feasible only to a capacity so as to set-off the power drawn from the grid, as any excessive power is compensated at average cost of power purchase (ACPP), which is usually under `3.50/kWh.technology.

What are the initiatives taken by the industry to increase awareness of rooftop solar plants among institutions and citizens?
Give examples of cost efficiency of rooftop solar systems for a households vs grid connection.
The MNRE has undertaken massive publicity and awareness measures through print and electronic media. For e.g. the National Solar Energy Helpline 1800 2334477, which is the first of its kind in the world has been helpful in resolving the queries by direct interaction. Typically a solar PV system under present costs yields `6.00/kWh amortized over a 10-year period. For commercial establishments the accelerated depreciation brings it down to `4.50/kWh, which is quite economical compared to grid. There are several states where residential power is close to `5.50/kWh and it is here with the 15 per cent subsidy rooftop solar PV is cheaper to produce. What is needed is the will and desire by every individual to contribute by adapting to sustainable technologies as part of Individual Social Responsibility (ISR).

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17 Oct 2016
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