Powered up: India plans ‘rent a rooftop’ solar policy
New Delhi: The Union government is working on a ‘rent a rooftop’ policy to support its ambitious plan to generate 40 gigawatt (GW) solar power from rooftop panels by 2022, Anand Kumar, secretary in the ministry of new and renewable energy said. The government is also planning to bid out wind power contracts totaling 24.5 GW over the next two years.
“We are planning a ‘rent a rooftop’ policy,” said Kumar in his first interview after assuming the charge in the ministry.
While investors have been enthused by India’s groundmounted grid-connected large solar parks, the solar rooftop market hasn’t gained much traction. “We are now trying to work out a new programme called ‘rent a roof,’ wherein the developer will take rooftops on rent and will offer lease to each house-hold, and then feed the power to the grid,” added Kumar.
Of India’s ambitious plan of setting up a 175 GW of clean energy by 2022, 100 GW is to come from solar projects. Of these, while 60GW is being targeted from ground-mounted grid-connected projects, 40GW is to come from solar rooftop projects. Wind power projects are to contribute 60 GW. Such a policy will help India’s net-metering market. The country offers a big opportunity given its 750GW potential as it records around 300 sunny days a year with an average solar radiation range of 4-7 per kilowatthour (kWh).
“Under ‘rent a roof’, anyone can take a roof. Right now, net metering is happening but it is for the individual household to go for it on its own. After this, all the responsibilities such as maintenance will be with the developer. We are working on the policy,” Kumar said.
For India’s solar power targets to be met, the rooftop piece will have to take off. However, there are concerns as India is not expected to achieve even half of the solar rooftop targets by December 2021, according to consulting firm Bridge To India (BTI). Also, a parliamentary standing committee has said that the 40GW target of grid-connected rooftop solar by 2022 is “unrealistic”, Mint reported on August 1.
“We are doing it precisely for the same reason. Rooftops also are of small sizes. It is happening in educational institutions and at other places but is not happening at the house-hold level,” Kumar said.
Indian solar industry welcomed the move.
“The solar industry will welcome the ‘rent a roof’ policy with open arms. This would ensure solar at grass root level and give every home a chance to be energy independent. One would request to define the framework clearly as the number of stakeholders involved will be a lot many,” said Anmol Singh Jaggi, director at Gensol, a solar advisory firm.
India’s green energy play is expected to grow substantively with federal policy think tank NITI Aayog projecting 597710GW capacity by 2040 in its new draft energy policy.
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is also firming up its strategy to expedite bidding out wind power contracts. India has an installed wind power capacity of 33GW. The country has auctioned 2 GW of wind power contracts that saw tariff falling to a record low of ₹2.64 per unit in the October auction conducted by state-run Solar Energy Corp. of India (SECI).
“States will be bidding out around 500 MW. In addition, we will be bidding out around 4500 MW by March. It will be followed by bids for 10 GW next year followed by another 10 GW in the year after. So, by March 2020, we want to finish our bidding so that we are able to achieve our target by March 2022,” Kumar said.
Of India’s ambitious plan of setting up a 175 GW of clean energy by 2022, 100 GW is to come from solar projects