First Steps

Goa and Mizoram define solar power guidelines

While some states have been contributing significantly towards the country’s 100 GW by 2022 solar target, others have been lagging behind despite having high solar potential. Goa and Mizoram are two such states that do not have even a combined solar power capacity of 1 MW. However, the two states have finally decided to enter the space by taking the first step of defining solar power guidelines. While Goa has released its draft Solar Energy Policy, Mizoram has released its solar energy policy, 2017. The Goa Energy Development Agency (GEDA) has received comments on the draft policy and is likely to soon notify the final document.

The key features of the two policies are as follow…

Draft solar energy policy of Goa

Goa has bright sunshine for eight to nine months in a year. It does not generate its own electricity, except through private initiatives under which the power produced is based on fossil fuels. Therefore, the key challenges before the Goa government are to meet the growing power demand and to increase the share of renewables in the energy mix. In order to achieve energy security and meet its renewable purchase obligation, it is imperative for the state to address these issues.

According to the draft document, GEDA will be the nodal agency for implementing the solar policy, which aims to achieve 150 MW of installed solar photovoltaic (PV) power by 2022. The role of the state’s nodal agency is to implement various schemes, allot capacities, facilitate the development of solar plants, identify land for project development, help avail of subsidies, coordinate with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy for technical specifications, etc. The policy will remain effective for up to seven years from the date of notification. The state aims to promote the use of solar PV for power generation, steam and hot water for use in industrial, commercial, domestic and other applications by involving individuals, as well as the private and corporate sectors.

The draft policy has a provision to utilise these applications for setting up solar PV plants under three main categories:

  • Category I: Development of solar power plants for the sale of electricity to the distribution licensee on private land.
  • Category II: Development of solar power plants for captive use or for the sale of electricity to any person other than the distribution licensee.
  • Category III: Development of solar plants on government land.

In addition, the policy has suggested the development of solar power plants on canal tops and banks. The draft policy also proposes the provision of net metering facilities for ground-mounted solar power plants of captive power consumers. Decentralised and off-grid solar applications will also be promoted.

The policy lays special emphasis on the development of grid-connected rooftop solar plants. The following measures have been proposed for their promotion.

  • Individuals including commercial users are allowed to opt for gross metering for up to 10 kW or the sanctioned load, whichever is lower. The feed-in tariff (FiT) applicable to rooftop PV plants will be decided by the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC).
  • The state will promote the development of rooftop solar plants by individual to meet their own electricity requirements and to feed surplus electricity into the grid through the net metering mechanism, as per JERC’s Solar Power – Grid Connected Ground Mounted and Solar Rooftop and Metering Regulations, 2015. At the end of the settlement period, the adjusted net export energy surplus will be purchased by the discom at the applicable FiT decided by the JERC. Individuals including commercial and domestic solar power producers can opt for gross metering for up to 10 kW of power capacities. However, it is left to the consumers to opt for net/gross metering capacity below 10 kW. This is not applicable to government buildings, which would be covered under net metering irrespective of the load.
  • There will be a provision of group net metering to maximise the utilisation of rooftop space for solar energy generation for consumers in multiple buildings and with different service connections. Under this, surplus energy exported to the grid from a solar plant can be adjusted in one or more electricity service connections of that consumer at any location within the state.

Solar power policy of Mizoram

Mizoram, located in the tropical region of the country, receives an average solar insolation of 4.5 kWh per square metre per day with favourable temperatures. The estimated solar potential of Mizoram, as calculated by the National Institute of Solar Energy, is approximately 9.09 GW. To tap this potential and achieve the targets set under the National Solar Mission (NSM) and the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, the state government has notified the Solar Power Policy of Mizoram, 2017.

The state government has set a minimum solar capacity target of 80 MW and a solar renewable purchase obligation of 10.5 per cent by 2021-22. Under the policy, it is mandatory for all state and central government departments and institutions to install rooftop solar systems on official buildings, wherever technically feasible.

Moreover, the Zoram Energy Development Agency is the nodal agency for the implementation of solar power projects. It will be authorised to test all devices/equipment related to solar energy to be used in Mizoram for quality control. The main objectives of the policy are to encourage, develop and promote solar power generation, to develop Mizoram into an investor-friendly state, to encourage public as well as private investments in solar power generation, to promote decentralised and distributed generation, and to promote grid-connected and off-grid solar applications. In addition, the policy aims to promote all technologies of harnessing solar energy, create direct and indirect employment opportunities and promote research and development and innovations, as well as skill development in the segment.

Like Goa’s draft solar policy, Mizoram’s solar policy too lays greater emphasis on rooftop solar. The policy has prescribed capacity limits for various categories of users for setting up rooftop projects. The minimum eligible project capacity under the scheme is 1 kW with or without battery backup support. Consumers can generate solar power for self-consumption and can feed excess power into the grid through a bidirectional export/import (net) meter. All the equipment to be installed has to be domestically manufactured or be in line with the IEC standards notified by the state nodal agency. The equipment can be purchased by the plant owners or be provided by the distribution licensees at pre-notified rates. Net metering will be implemented by the state discom. In addition, applicants who install grid-connected rooftop solar projects are free to choose either net or gross meter option for the sale of power.

The policy provides possible business models to set up rooftop solar projects. These include solar installations owned by consumers; solar installations owned, operated and maintained by a third party; and solar installations on the rooftops of government buildings.

In the case of solar off-grid and decentralised distributed generation, the state government will incentivise projects, including hybrid systems, and promote solar pumping for drinking and irrigation purposes. The use of small solar PV systems, such as solar home lighting systems, solar lanterns and solar power packs in places where grid power supply is unavailable or where there is intermittent power supply or where grid connection is not cost-effective, will be promoted.

Transmission and distribution wheeling charges will be levied at 2 per cent of the energy supplied to the grid or as determined by the JERC. Banking of 100 per cent of the generated electricity will be permitted for all captive and open access/scheduled consumers for a period of one year. Banking charges will be adjusted at 2 per cent of the energy delivered at the point of drawal. Electricity duty is waived for captive consumption, for the sale of power to discoms and for new manufacturing units. Moreover, a reduction in contract demand up to 50 per cent of the installed capacity of the solar power plants will be allowed if the plant does not use the state grid for supplying power to consumers. The state government will provide incentives in terms of 100 per cent refund of stamp duty for land purchased for setting up solar power projects and stand-alone solar power systems.

Outlook

The policies released by the Goa and Mizoram governments are crucial to the achievement of  the targets set under the NSM. The two states have strong potential for solar power development, especially in the rooftop space. Moreover, the current market scenario is favourable for developing solar power as tariffs are at an all-time low. Therefore, the states should make the most of the present market scenario to achieve their targets backed by the solar policy guidelines for faster and easier project implementation.

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