Solar Rooftop Project in Gujarat

Solar Rooftop Project

Solar Rooftop Project

Solar Rooftops for the People

The Gujarat Energy Development Agency (GEDA), the state government’s agency for promotion of clean and renewable energy, launched the Solar Rooftop project to facilitate large-scale (particularly domestic) use of solar energy in the state. The project is likely to not only ramp up the solar power generation capacity of the state but also enable property owners to install their own solar energy generation units. This, in turn, is likely to bring immense benefits to the common man by cutting down on electricity bills – a major component of a householder’s budget.

The GEDA intends to achieve this aim by providing a minimum subsidy of INR 10,000 – 20,000 (approximately USD 150 – 300) on the procurement of a 1kW rooftop solar power system by individual householders. The higher the solar power generation capacity of the system, the greater the subsidy is likely to be. What’s more is that this subsidy provided by the GEDA will be in addition to 30 percent subsidy offered by the central government’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to solar rooftop unit manufacturers. The cost of installing a 1 kW solar power generation system for a residence is between INR 1.2 lakhs and INR 1.8 lakhs. The subsidy is likely to encourage more householders to set up such systems.

The rooftop solar power project for residential properties launched by the GEDA is specifically meant for those opting for grid-connected rooftop solar power systems. “There are several residents who have already installed solar power generation units on their rooftops. However, they are off-grid, as they are not connected with the electricity metre. This project is for those residential property owners who wish to connect their power units with the electricity grid”, said JT Akhani, the GEDA Director.

Through FY 2016-17, the GEDA plans to set up rooftop solar power generation units capable of generating some 50 MW (megawatt) of electricity across the state. The agency is also tying up with channel partners who will install these subsidised units for the householders. “The installations will be done by our channel partners, saving time and energy of consumers in finding right contractor”, the agency announced. The GEDA has already received over 150 applications for such rooftop solar installations and the announcement of the subsidy is likely to bring in a hundred thousand of applications, the agency believes.

Solar Policy 2015

The state of Gujarat has been a pioneer in solar energy generation and has a solar power programme that predates the National Solar Mission developed by the centre for the country. In August 2015, the Gujarat state government’s Department of Energy and Petrochemicals announced the launch of a new ‘Gujarat Solar Power Policy-2015’. The 2009 solar policy of the state had resulted in creation of solar power generation capacity far beyond the state’s utility (in excess of 1000 MW) by investing about INR 9000 crore. The 2015 policy promised to scale up this solar power generation capacity to over 10,000 MW. The policy announced a number of benefits and incentives for solar power generators (SPGs) that are installed across the country between 2015 and 2020.

The grid-connected rooftop solar power generation project was also proposed by the Gujarat Solar Power Policy in 2015. The state aims at developing a solar energy generation capacity of 40 GW only from rooftop projects by March 2022. If this dream is realised it will be a paradigm shift in the way the state’s resources are utilised and will set an example for regional green initiatives in the country. For the remotest regions of the state, which are yet to be lit up and where grid-based power connections are not viable, the state government plans to implement schemes to enable basic lighting and power usage using photo-voltaic (PV) systems.

Tying In With Global Commitments

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the NDA government have shown a strong commitment towards developing and promoting clean and renewable energy in India. Taking this agenda forward, PM Modi announced the launch of the International Solar Alliance at the Paris COP21 climate summit in November 2015. This is an initiative in which over 120 countries have agreed to join hands and promote the large scale production and use of solar energy. Apart from governments, a number of multinational corporations have shown great interest in participating in the alliance and its work. It stands to reason then, that the PM’s home state must be the pioneer in promoting use of solar energy among its citizens. It also seems quite clear that all other states that follow in Gujarat’s footsteps will find the centre’s support in launching and sustaining such solar energy schemes, particularly for domestic usage.

India’s Energy Crisis

The launch of Solar Rooftop project stands out against the background of an ongoing energy crisis in the nation. With over 1.2 billion people, India is the second most populous country in the world and is soon set to overtake China. 1010 kWh electricity consumption per capita and an overall consumption of about 524 million tonnes of oil equivalent energy, over 300 million people in the country are still living without electricity. While the government’s move to light up more villages each year is great for the country’s development, it is also straining the fast depleting fossil fuel resources. At the Paris COP21 climate summit, India also made a commitment to draw 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources such as solar power by the year 2030. If this dream is to become a reality, and India’s environment and ecology to be protected it is important that such solar rooftop schemes be implemented across the nation and not only in Gujarat.