In the Grand Finale marking the culmination of ‘Ujjwal Bharat Ujjwal Bhavishya – Power @2047’, Prime Minister Modi launched National Portal for Rooftop Solar which will enable online tracking of the process of installation of rooftop solar plants, starting from registering the applications to release of subsidy in residential consumers’ bank account after installation and inspection of the plant. He also launched the Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS) which is aimed at improving the operational efficiencies and financial sustainability of distribution companies, with an outlay of Rs 3,037.58 billion over a period of five years from 2021-22 to 2025-26.
National Rooftop Portal: With the launch of this portal, the consumers will have the choice to select, any vendor registered with the local distribution company, solar modules of equality and efficiency, solar inverter and other balance of plants and equipment. The process of registration of vendors with the discom is also simplified as now they have to just submit a declaration along with a PBG amount of Rs. 0.25 million for getting registered. Vendors can provide their information and rates on the portal for consumers to reach them. All the updates can be tracked online in the portal right from registration of the application to release of subsidy in the bank account of the consumer.
The estimated capacity under the national solar rooftop program is 4,000 MW.
Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS): It aims to provide financial assistance to discoms for modernisation and strengthening of distribution infrastructure, aiming at improvement of the reliability and quality of supply to end consumers. It is also proposed to provide 250 million smart prepaid meters to consumers all over the country.
The reaction of the clean energy industry to these announcements
Somesh Kumar, Partner & Leader (Power & Utilities), EY India
“The National Rooftop Portal is a very laudable initiative and takes offshoot from existing Unified Web Portal framework, which has been implemented in several states. The new portal improves on subsidy disbursal and consumer/vendor convenience. Subsidy disbursal will be done now through DBT, directly to consumers account, circumventing discom payment inefficiencies and delays. Consumer outreach and awareness generation programs of MNRE can get a big bolstering, due to centralised nature of the scheme. Distributed IT infrastructure and compliance requirements in states can be completely done away with. Certain areas can be improved upon such as higher PBG amount, five years lock in period for vendor empanelment, consumer aggregation and uptake risks, cost uncertainty, metering by discoms.
The RDSS scheme bolsters the digitization push, by earmarking substantial financial commitment to smart metering, network upgradation bundled with targeted policy and regulatory provisioning. The scheme promotes TOTEX model that attracts large market participation, and delineating risk/financial overlay to the exchequer. Smart metering continues to transform by bringing down network losses, narrowing the gap between ACS and ARR, and easing integration with net metering systems. This transitioning goes a long way in business offload prerequisite towards discom innovation and modernisation. A potential avenue of pursuit in the future can be leveraging big data logged in smart meters. A few things to be looked at further include uncertainty of OPEX payment and higher cost of project financing linked to poor financial health of discoms. Market challenges such as limited number of meter manufacturers, tier-1 CSPs and MDM solution provider may create execution bottlenecks. The scheme also sets ambitious timelines with stringent SLAs, making compliance a challenge for most market players. “
Kushagra Nandan, Co-Founder and Managing Director, SunSource Energy
“The power distribution companies (discoms) and the state power departments in India have been historically struggling due to various reasons. One of the reasons has been operational efficiencies, specifically, transmission and distribution (T&D) losses. India’s T&D losses have been over 20%, almost double the global average. It is critical for India to improve the state of the distribution sector if it wants to provide high-quality and affordable electricity to its citizens. Hence, the RDSS assumes a significant role. It aims to reduce technical and commercial losses to pan-India levels of 12-15 per cent by 2024-25 and cut the cost-revenue gap to zero by 2024-25.
One key difference between RDSS and the earlier schemes is that in addition to providing financial assistance, it also focuses on smart metering, which can help reduce billing inefficiencies. I think it is a much-needed step, but its effectiveness will depend upon successful implementation by the states.
We welcome the launch of the National Portal for Rooftop Solar by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. By enabling the online tracking of the rooftop solar plants installation process for individual customers or households, it will make the entire process transparent. Also, allowing the direct transfer of subsidy to the consumer puts the power in the hands of the customer. We feel that it should encourage more consumers to opt for solar solutions.”