Ease of Deployment

MNRE launches rooftop solar portal to increase uptake

India’s solar power installations have grown rapidly over the past few years to reach almost 58 GW as of July 2022, exceeding wind power installations by a large margin. Roughly 48 GW of this installed capacity comes from utility-scale solar projects while 7 GW is contributed by rooftop solar plants. This vast difference in the installed capacities of these two solar subsegments can be partly att­ributed to the much larger project sizes possible in the case of utility-scale plants as compared to rooftop so­lar. More importantly, rooftop solar has long been a victim of delayed and often lengthy approval procedures and bure­aucratic hurdles. In some states, there have been issues in getting net metering permits from utilities while in other cases subsidy disbursal has been a problem. Further, commercial and industrial rooftop solar has gained traction owing to the attractive cost economics and popularity of the opex model, but residential solar has been severely limited due to lack of awareness and high perceived costs.

To encourage the uptake of rooftop solar in the residential space, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is already implementing the Rooftop Solar Prog­ramme Phase II with an aggregate target of 4,000 MW in the residential spa­ce by 2022. The scheme was launched in March 2019 and the MNRE is providing central financial assistance at different levels to support this programme. However, the scheme has not generated the expected results. To further address the bottlenecks and streamline the process of rooftop solar installations throughout the country, the government has issued many policy directives in recent months.

Simplified procedure for residential consumers

In February 2022, the MNRE introduced a simplified procedure for residential consumers to help them install rooftop solar plants on their own or through any vendor of their choice. It proposed a national portal for registration, tracking and approval of rooftop solar applications, which will be forwarded to the concerned discoms.

The procedure notified a timeline of 15 days for the issuance of technical feasibility approval. Following this, the consumer can get the rooftop solar project installed by selecting a vendor from an empanelled list on the portal. The vendor will be respo­n­sible for maintaining the project for a minimum of five years. The rooftop solar proje­ct must be installed within a specified period, after which the consumer can apply for net metering on the portal. It is the con­c­­e­rned discom’s responsibility to either pro­­cure the net meter or advise the consumer to do so, and then submit a commissioning and inspection report on the national portal. The subsidy amount will be directly re­leased in the consumer’s bank account after receiving the inspection report. In June 2022, the MNRE issued another or­der, which stated that vendors must register or empanel themselves with the rooftop solar beneficiaries’ discom. This measure has been taken to protect the interests of residential consumers opting for rooftop solar projects by ensuring that vendors have the requisite expertise and that they follow the MNRE’s specified stan­dards and guidelines.

Launch of the National Portal for Rooftop Solar

In July 2022, the prime minister launched various renewable energy sector sche­m­es and projects in the Grand Finale marking the culmination of Ujjwal Bharat Ujj­wal Bhavishya – Power @2047. The Na­tional Portal for Rooftop Solar was laun­ched formally at the event along with the launch of the Revamped Distribution Sec­tor Sche­me and laying of the foundation stone for various green energy projects of NTPC Limited.

This portal simplifies the procedure for residential consumers to apply for subsidy and get a rooftop solar system ins­tall­ed at their premises. Interested consumers must register with their respective discom by submitting a declaration along with a PBG amount of Rs 250,000. To further ease the process for consumers, rooftop solar vendors will provide their information and rates on the portal, allowing consumers to contact the vendor of their choice directly, negotiate the rates for rooftop solar installation and get the project deployed. Further, the portal will allow consumers to track the entire process, from registration of the application to release of subsidy in the consumer’s bank account. The subsidy rate will be common across the country and will be based on the project capacity rather than benchmark costs. Further, disbursal of the subsidy in the consumer’s account will take just 30 days.

Outlook

As per government estimates, this programme is expected to benefit more than 1 million residences by reducing their po­wer bills. On a large scale, this progra­mme will help significantly increase the country’s rooftop solar capacity, thereby helping accelerate its green energy transition journey.

GET ACCESS TO OUR ARTICLES

Enter your email address