Friday, September 14, 2012

Delhi's rooftop solar power policy a non-starter

It seemed to be the panacea for the capital's power woes, but few months down the line the Delhi government's ambitious plan to generate electricity by installing solar panels on rooftops of houses has not taken off. The reason? "It's not cost effective", an official said. 

"If you talk about the solar power scenario in the country, we have a long way to go. Even the European countries have not been able to implement it. It was just a proposal which is not viable," a Delhi government official told reporters. 

Chief minister Sheila Dikshit had announced in May that her government would soon introduce a scheme for setting up solar power units on the rooftops of households. 

According to the policy, residents could earn money by selling electricity to power distribution companies (discoms). The discoms could deduct from the electricity bill the amount the house owner earned from the solar unit. 

However, the officials said the per unit cost of generating power from a rooftop plant was Rs.17.50, thus making it unviable for the discoms. 
"The cost of generating electricity is too high. This is not economically viable and cost effective, though it's an environment friendly alternative source of energy," the official said. 

Under the policy, by signing a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the company supplying power in their areas, residents could get solar power plants installed on their rooftops. The cost of setting up such a plant over an area of 200 square metres was estimated at Rs.8-9 lakh. 
House owners could either lease out their roofs to a developer, who would set up the unit or set it up themselves. 

"The government is yet to chalk out plans to implement the policy. It has to be done in collaboration with the ministry of new and renewable energy. It may be completed by 2017," another official added.

-Umesh Shanmugam  

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