The beauty of harnessing power from the sun is that it can be done anywhere, from abandoned deserts to rooftop spaces in metropolitan cities. However, India still lags behind many other countries in tapping this clean energy, even though blessed with abundant sun in most parts of the country. Aruna Kumarankandath from Renewable Energy Department at Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi elucidates.
India has the seventh largest land mass and is supporting the second largest population in the world. This makes land resource scarce and highly contested. Keeping this in mind, it becomes important to adopt suitable technologies for optimal land use. According to Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General, CSE “As demand for electricity is decentralized, it makes solar PV technology, which is modular, most suitable for decentralised generation and consumption. Rooftop solar systems utilize idle space on rooftops and tap in to the modular nature of solar, thereby not only deriving value from these rooftops but also, saving cost of developing transmission infrastructure. As electricity is consumed where it is produced, it prevents transmission and distribution losses of electricity and of course there are savings from reduced electricity bill.”
The Government Incentives
The biggest push for this sector comes from the National Solar Mission. Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) was introduced in 2010 with an aim of achieving 22,000 mega-watts (MW) of installed capacity for solar by 2022. Last year, the government increased this target from 22,000 to 100,000 MW in the same timeframe. Out of this 100,000 MW, 40,000 MW target was assigned to rooftop solar.
Ambitious targets are a good sign for development of any sector but, financial intervention is critical in the success of any project. In this regard, the recent increase in the budget for implementation of grid connected solar rooftop systems under the scheme from `600 crore to `5,000 crore by 2019-20 bodes well. This increase in subsidy will support installation of 4,200 MW of solar power in the next five years. The Centre also provides other benefits like Custom duty concessions, excise duty exemptions and soft loans from different banks. Several major banks of India have come forward to include Rooftop solar PV as a part of their Home loan/Home improvement loans. Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) has also initiated a loan scheme for industrial, commercial and institutional for subsidised interest rates that range from 9.9 to 10.75 per cent, which are lower than the commercial lending rate of 13 per cent.