Last week, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister formally gave its approval for stepping up India’s solar power capacity target to 100 GW by 2022 (refer). The press release included some bold policy ideas to achieve the goal. They include: making 10% rooftop solar mandatory under a scheme to be formulated and announced by the Ministry of Urban Development (this is still an idea that may or may not become a policy) and setting up industrial parks for manufacturing solar PV components. Apart for the new policy targets, the cabinet also gave its approval for implementing 2 GW of utility scale projects under a viability gap funding mechanism (refer). This is a part of the 7 GW to be allocated by SECI.
India’s cabinet approves the 100 GW solar plan
A provision for mandatory renewables for buildings is planned
There will also be industrial parks for manufacturing solar components
The most noteworthy point in the press release is the proposal for amendment in building bye-laws for mandatory provision of roof top solar for new construction and 10% renewable energy provision for end-customers under the new scheme of Ministry of Urban Planning. It is an interesting proposal and, in this post, we discuss some of its pros and cons.
Mandatory rooftop solar is not new to India. Similar policies have earlier been formulated by the states of Haryana and Tamil Nadu. In 2012, Tamil Nadu unveiled a solar policy, under which large power consumers (with a connected load of above 11 kVA) were asked to meet a share of their power consumption from solar. However, a year later, this obligation was challenged by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Consumers Association in court on the grounds that there was already a general renewable energy obligation upon commercial consumers, as per a Tamil Nadu Energy Regulatory Commission (TNERC) order of 2010. The rooftop obligation was dismissed by the courts and the plan as aborted.
Subsequently, Haryana has made it mandatory for all buildings with an area of 500 sq. yards or more to install solar rooftop systems of a minimum size of 1 kW or 5% of their power requirements, whichever is higher. The deadline for meeting the requirements is September 2015. In all likelihood, there will be large scale non-compliance to this mandate. The primary reasons for non-compliance is that the other aspects of the policy are not being effectively implemented. A central and state government subsidy has been announced but it is not available. Net-metering exists on paper but the process for providing interconnection has not yet been streamlined. In fact, hardly any permissions have been provided for net-metering. Over and above these challenges, the short timelines provided for publicizing and enforcing the mandates has created a situation where the public has not taken them seriously.