Against the target of 100 GW of solar energy, a total of only 35.12 GW of solar power capacity has been installed in the Country as on 30.06.2020. Solar power projects of 31.48 GW are under various stages of implementation for which Letters of Intent have been issued.
The government had taken several steps to ensure the achievement of the physical target concerning Solar Energy. It had launched the following schemes for the same.
However, all these mentioned schemes have not been able to achieve the desire results. The Ministry gave several behind not being able to fulfill the targets. Regarding significant reasons for the low utilization of funds under grid-connected solar power, the Ministry stated that funds reserved for the North East States are not fully utilized.
Solar Ground Mounted Projects
The Ministry's target was to install 40 GW of solar power by setting up over 50 solar parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects by 2022. Nowhere near the actual target, speaking of the present status of the Solar Park Scheme, the Ministry stated that it had approved 39 nos. of solar parks of an aggregate capacity of 22,879 MW in 17 States.
These parks are at different stages of development. Out of the approved solar park, infrastructure in 8 nos. of solar parks is almost fully developed where solar projects of aggregate capacity 6580 MW have also been commissioned. In addition, four nos. of solar parks are partially developed where solar projects of aggregate capacity 1365 MW have been commissioned
The panel recorded that the remaining 11 solar parks of aggregate capacity of 17,121 MW have not even got the approval of the Ministry, although these solar parks have to be developed and projects there in commissioned by 2022. Further, only 20 percent of the 82 approved solar parks are fully developed so far, and another 10 percent are only somewhat developed, leaving as much as 70 percent unachieved.
The Committee stated that it is "disappointed" with the Ministry's sluggish progress so far. It has fully developed only eight solar parks in more than five years (2015-20), and an aggregate capacity of 32,055 MW is yet to be commissioned to achieve the stipulated target by 2022.
The Ministry, in response, has informed that the major challenge in the development of solar parks is the acquisition of land that is dependent upon cooperation from the State Governments and other stakeholders.
Speaking on the progress made in this sector, the Ministry stated that under the Solar Park Scheme, around 1,17,000 acres of land had been identified for the setting of various solar parks, out of which about 85,000 acres have been acquired.
Solar Rooftop Programme
Regarding the solar rooftop Programme, the Ministry stated that Phase II of the Grid connected rooftop solar programme was approved with a target for achieving a cumulative capacity of 40,000 MW from Rooftop Solar (RTS) Projects by the year 2022 in February 2019. The programme will be implemented with the total central financial support of Rs. 11,814 crore through DISCOMs. Operational guidelines have been issued on August 20, 2019.
In the Phase-II Programme, Central Financial Assistance (CFA) for the residential sector has been restructured with the availability of 40% CFA for RTS systems up to 3 kW capacity and 20% for RTS system capacity beyond 3 kW and up to 10 kW. For Group Housing Societies/Residential Welfare Associations (GHS/RAW), CFA will be limited to 20% for RTS plants for supply of power to common facilities. However, the capacity eligible for CFA for GHS/RAW will be limited to 10 kW per house with a maximum total capacity of up to 500 kWp, inclusive of RTS put in individual houses in the GHS/RWA.
The Ministry further added that solar rooftops have been found to be remunerative, and the average payback period of such projects varies from 5-6 years, and the expected life is up to 25 years with subsidy.
The possible reasons for slow progress in Solar Rooftop Programme, the Ministry stated as under: i) Involvement of multiple stakeholders viz. State Nodal Agencies, DISCOMs, Public Sector Undertakings, Developers, etc. ii) Reluctance of DISCOMs due to revenue loss; availability of net— meter; CEIG inspection for smaller plants, etc. iii) Lack of mandatory notification/ Lack of State policies. iv) Lack of uniform regulations.
Net-Metering under the grid-connected rooftop solar system is a metering arrangement under which a rooftop owner pays to the Power distributing company (DISCOM) on net metering basis.
On the aspect of net metering, the Ministry has stated that: Although, all the State/Joint Electricity Regulatory Commissions have issued net metering regulation/tariff orders, but there are various diverse parameters in terms of capacity allowed for net metering based on minimum capacity/maximum capacity/% of connected load, % of DT capacity, payment for excess exported solar electricity /category allowed for net –metering, etc. Ministry has requested Forum of regulator to develop model regulations for this so that States may adopt.
Regarding the steps taken by the Government to promote solar rooftops in the Country, the Ministry has informed the Committee that:
As per SolarMarts, though the overall pace of installation solar projects is slow and sluggish, but still, it is making some progress, and we can be optimistic about the future and will soon change a shift from the fossil energy towards green energy.
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