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Rooftop Solar Scheme

Context:

Recently, the Finance Minister in her Budget speech announced that the people availing the government’s newly-announced rooftop solar scheme will be entitled to 300 units of free electricity every month and help them save up to Rs 18,000 annually.

  • As per the experts, the rooftop solarisation of one crore households could result in the installation of about 20-25 GW of new capacity.
  • A recent report from Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) showed that the nearly 25 crore households across the country had the potential to deploy 637 GW of solar energy on rooftops, though it would be unrealistic to tap it entirely.
    • It said about one fifth of this potential, about 118 GW of capacity, was certainly doable.
    • Households have so far accounted for a small proportion, about 20 per cent, of India’s installed rooftop solar capacity, with the bulk of it in the commercial and industrial sectors.  

Relevance:

GS II: Government policies and Intervention

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana
  2. Rooftop Solar Panels
  3. India’s current solar capacity
  4. Importance for expansion of solar energy in India:
  5. India’s solar policy
  6. How critical is solar power to India’s commitment to mitigate climate change?

About Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana

Aim:

  • To provide electricity to low and middle-income individuals through solar rooftop installations, along with offering additional income for surplus electricity generation.
  • The scheme seems to be a new attempt to help reach the target of 40 GW rooftop solar capacity.

Target:

  • Under the scheme, around 1 crore households will get rooftop solar.

Energy Self-reliance:

  • By installing rooftop solar systems, the scheme aims to decrease India’s dependency on traditional energy sources and move towards sustainable energy practices.
  • The scheme is in line with Atmanirbhar Bharat.

Market Implications:

  • The initiative is expected to benefit companies involved in solar panel installation and related infrastructure, potentially leading to long-term investment opportunities.

Implementation of the scheme:

  • Awareness Campaigns: To educate potential beneficiaries about the scheme and its benefits.
  • Collaboration with Local Bodies: Involving panchayats, municipalities, or local NGOs for effective reach.
  • Monitoring and Feedback: Ensuring the scheme’s effectiveness and making necessary adjustments.

Rooftop Solar Panels:

  • Definition: Rooftop solar panels are photovoltaic panels installed on a building’s roof, integrated into the main power supply system.

Benefits

  • Energy Consumption Reduction: Significantly reduces reliance on grid-connected electricity, leading to lower electricity costs for consumers.
  • Surplus Power Export: Excess solar power generated can be exported to the grid, providing monetary benefits to consumers based on prevailing regulations.

Government Initiatives

  • Rooftop Solar Programme (2014): Launched with the goal of achieving 40 GW cumulative installed capacity by 2022.
  • Deadline Extension: Due to unmet targets, the government extended the deadline to 2026.
  • Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana: Aimed at supporting the achievement of the 40 GW rooftop solar capacity target.

Current Landscape

  • While the initial target remains unfulfilled, government initiatives continue to drive the adoption of rooftop solar panels, contributing to India’s sustainable energy goals.

India’s current solar capacity:

  • Solar power has a major share in the country’s current renewable energy capacity, which stands at around 180 GW.
  • According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s website, solar power installed capacity in India has reached around 73.31 GW as of December 2023.
  • The rooftop solar installed capacity is around 11.08 GW as of December 2023.
  • In terms of total solar capacity, Rajasthan is at the top with 18.7 GW. Gujarat is at the second position with 10.5 GW. 
  • When it comes to rooftop solar capacity, Gujarat tops the list with 2.8 GW, followed by Maharashtra by 1.7 GW.

Importance for expansion of solar energy in India:

  • According to the latest World Energy Outlook by the International Energy Agency (IEA), India is expected to witness the largest energy demand growth of any country or region in the world over the next 30 years.
  • To meet this demand, the country would need a reliable source of energy and it can’t be just coal plants.
  • Although India has doubled down on its coal production in recent years, it also aims to reach 500 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030.
  • Therefore, it is essential to expand solar power capacity.

India’s solar policy:

  • Since 2011, India’s solar sector has grown at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 59% from 0.5GW in 2011 to 55GW in 2021.

National Solar Mission (NSM):

  • The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), also known as the National Solar Mission (NSM), which commenced in January 2010, marked the first time the government focussed on promoting and developing solar power in India.
  • Under the scheme, the total installed capacity target was set as 20GW by 2022.
  • In 2015, the target was revised to 100GW and in August 2021, the government set a solar target of 300GW by 2030.
  • India currently ranks fifth after China, U.S., Japan and Germany in terms of installed solar power capacity.
  • As of December 2021, the cumulative solar installed capacity of India is 55GW, which is roughly half the renewable energy (RE) capacity (excluding large hydro power) and 14% of the overall power generation capacity of India.
  • Within the 55GW, grid-connected utility-scale projects contribute 77% and the rest comes from grid-connected rooftop and off-grid projects.

Grid-Connected Rooftop Solar Scheme (Phase II):

  • In a rooftop or small solar photovoltaic (SPV) system that is connected to the grid, the power conditioning unit converts the DC power generated by the SPV panel to AC electricity, which is then delivered to the grid.
  • The scheme aimed to achieve a cumulative installed capacity of 40,000 megawatts (MW) or  40 gigawatts (GW) by 2022.
  • However, this target couldn’t be achieved. As a result, the government extended the deadline from 2022 to 2026. 

Major objective of the programme includes:

  • To promote the grid-connected SPV rooftop and small SPV power generating plants among the residential, community, institutional, industrial and commercial establishments.
  • To mitigate the dependence on fossil fuel based electricity generation and encourage environment-friendly Solar electricity generation.
  • To create an enabling environment for investment in the solar energy sector by the private sector, state government and the individuals.
  • To create an enabling environment for the supply of solar power from rooftop and small plants to the grid.
  • This scheme is being implemented in the state by distribution companies (DISCOMs).
  • Under this scheme the Ministry is providing a 40% subsidy for the first 3 kW and 20% subsidy beyond 3 kW and upto 10 kW of solar panel capacity.
  • The residential consumer has to pay the cost of rooftop solar plant by reducing the subsidy amount given by the Ministry as per the prescribed rate to the vendor.

How critical is solar power to India’s commitment to mitigate climate change?

  • Solar power is a major prong of India’s commitment to address global warming according to the terms of the Paris Agreement, as well as achieving net zero, or no net carbon emissions, by 2070.
  • Prime Minister at the United Nations Conference of Parties meeting in Glasgow, in November 2021, said India would be reaching a non-fossil fuel energy capacity of 500 GW by 2030 and meet half its energy requirements via renewable energy by 2030.
  • To boost the renewable energy installation drive in the long term, the Centre in 2020 set a target of 450GW of RE-based installed capacity to be achieved by 2030, within which the target for solar was 300GW.
  • Given the challenge of integrating variable renewable energy into the grid, most of the RE capacity installed in the latter half of this decade is likely to be based on wind solar hybrid (WSH), RE-plus-storage and round-the-clock RE projects rather than traditional solar/wind projects, according to the report.
  • On the current trajectory, the report finds, India’s solar target of 300GW by 2030 will be off the mark by about 86GW, or nearly a third.

-Source: The Indian Express, The Hindu


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