Rooftop solar has a promising future in India where land is a scarce commodity. So far, rooftop solar has lagged well behind large-scale projects making up only 12 percent of the total solar installations in the country according to Mercom Q4 and Annual 2018 India Solar Market Quarterly Update. With this in mind, the Andhra Pradesh utility has now come up with a novel idea to tap the potential of rooftop solar with the involvement of distribution companies from the beginning of the installation process.
The Eastern Power Distribution Company of Andhra Pradesh Limited (APEPDCL) had petitioned the Andhra Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (APERC) to approve the implementation of distribution company (DISCOM)-driven solar rooftop photovoltaic (PV) program devised under the technical assistance program. APEPDCL has proposed two models for the implementation of this program.
Model 1 will be customer-owned solar rooftop program with net-metering. The equated monthly installment (EMI) will be partly shared by the DISCOM on a net present value (NPV) neutral basis.
This model is for Domestic Category B consumers with monthly consumption between 140 to 200 units. Rooftop solar PV systems will be of capacity 1 kW to 1.5 kW. The DISCOM will be the facilitator who aggregates consumer demand by taking signed consent from the consumers.
DISCOM will find the capital cost of a rooftop solar PV system and aid the consumers in availing loan from the bank. A typical loan tenure will be about seven years, and the consumer will be liable to pay EMI equal to their current electricity bill during loan tenure, while DISCOM will pay the remaining EMI. Once the loan tenure is over, the DISCOM will collect the EMI amount paid by it from the consumer every month.
Model 2 will be grid-connected rooftop solar PV program on developer mode under gross metering. Under this model, a developer will be selected through competitive bidding for the supply of power to APEPDCL for 25 years. The developer will utilize the rooftop spaces of willing consumers.
In its petition, APEPDCL has asserted that this program will lead to reduced cost of rooftop solar PV systems for consumers, ensure quality, address the challenge of interconnection delays and enable adoption of rooftop solar PV by low-end consumer segments.
The APERC has invited comments, suggestions from stakeholders on the matter. The petition is up for comments up to April 24, 2019. It will hold a public hearing on the matter on April 27, 2019.
In a country like India, there is not a single solution or a model that would work everywhere. Innovative custom rooftop programs like the one being proposed by Andhra Pradesh is a welcome development.
Recently, the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission issued new net metering guidelines for solar rooftop consumers as part of its Solar Policy 2019. Other states are also mulling similar policies to incentivize rooftop solar generation as rooftop makes only 11 percent of India’s total solar installation.