Weak Performance in Rooftop Solar a Growing Concern

Against the overall target of 40 GW rooftop solar by 2022, an aggregate capacity of 3.73 GW has been installed as of January 31, 2021.

The National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) has estimated a rooftop solar potential of 42.83 GW in India. Based on this estimation, the central government had set a highly ambitious target of connecting 40 GW of rooftop solar systems (under the 100 GW solar by 2022) across the country to the grid by 2022. Against the overall target of 40 GW by 2022, an aggregate capacity of 3.73 GW of grid-connected rooftop solar systems have been installed in the country as of January 31, 2021.

The Standing Committee on Energy in its Demand for Grants 2021-22’ report for the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) which was presented in the parliament on March 8, 2021, stated that it is concerned with the weak performance of the Ministry in solar rooftop programme since against the target of 40 GW of installed rooftop solar power by 2022, only an aggregate capacity of 3.73 GW has been installed as on January 31, 2021, that is, target achievement of less than even 10 percent. 

The parliamentary panel stated that “it is observed that the rooftop solar systems are not proving to be attractive for the consumers due to time consuming and complicated procedures for setting it up and delays in disbursement of subsidy, etc.”

The Committee was of the opinion that given the performance of MNRE in this sector to date, the rooftop solar target of 40 GW by 2022 is highly unlikely to be achieved with the present pace of progress. One major reason for such tardy progress is the lack of awareness about this scheme amongst the masses.

When asked about the reasons for the slow progress of the rooftop solar programme, the Ministry cited the following reasons:

  • Multiple tenders by different agencies and subsequently considerable delay in tendering.
  • Involvement of multiple agencies viz. SNAs, DISCOMs, PSUs, Developers etc.
  • Lack of uniform regulation/mandatory notification for rooftop solar
  • Lack of awareness among the prospective beneficiaries. 
  • Discoms apprehension to lose revenue 

“To address the issues faced during implementation of Ph-I, and especially the fact that the consumer had to approach multiple agencies for getting a RTS plant installed, it has been decided to implement the programme by making the Discoms and its local offices as the nodal points for implementation of the RTS programme,” the MNRE representative said.

The committee, considering the poor performance, recommended that:

  1. The Ministry should widely advertise the benefits of having a rooftop solar power system and also about the incentives being provided by the Government for the same in all vernacular print and electronic media so as to spread awareness among the masses.
  2. Single Window Clearance System should be put in place, in the first phase, in all District headquarters in the country to provide all assistance/services/information to the customers and facilitate them in getting rooftop solar system installed in a hassle-free manner. 
  3. The process of subsidy disbursement should be made transparent, simpler and faster through the aforesaid Single Window Clearance System and preferably a digital platform is developed for this purpose to reduce the human interface in the process.

The committee also expressed its concern over the fact that MNRE has continuously failed to achieve its yearly physical targets. For the years 2018-19 and 2019-20, against the grid-connected renewable energy target of 15,355 MW and 11,852 MW, the Ministry could achieve only 8,519.52 MW and 8,761.26 MW respectively. There was a shortfall of about 45 percent and 26 percent during these years. Similarly, during the year 2020-21 (upto January 2021), 5473.08 MW could be installed against the target of 12,380 MW. 

The Committee feels that with continuous non-achievement of the assigned yearly physical targets, the Ministry may find it extremely difficult to achieve 175 GW by 2022.

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Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.

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