Decrease in Cost of Solar by 50% can Increase Solar Penetration by 8 Times: NITI Aayog

The Distributed Solar Power Association (DiSPA) has petitioned the Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission (HERC) to remove the 500 MW cap for open access solar projects.

According to DiSPA, the Haryana Solar Policy 2016 emphasizes on the development and promotion of solar power generation as a primary objective. In order to achieve this objective, the policy has specifically provided for generation subsidies and incentives for the development and installation of rooftop grid connected and off-grid solar power projects. Towards this end, waiver of open access charges for solar power projects have been provided for in the state solar policy as a subsidy. However, in its Renewable Energy Tariff regulations 2017, HERC later exempted the said charges but introduced a cap of 500 MW of aggregate solar capacity under open access.

According to DiSPA, “The HERC has also allowed DISCOMs to meet their Renewable Purchase Obligations by the electricity generated form such projects. Recently, it also revised new solar RPO trajectory, which is 8 percent by 2022. This translates to solar capacity of 2,000 MW assuming a load growth of three percent. Current solar base in the state is only 48.80 MW; therefore, a larger push is required to promote solar. Solar projects under open access will play a vital role in this, provided same treatment is offered to all projects set up under the control period of the order. These projects will offer electricity at a reasonable rate to the industry which will help them expand their base in the state and also bring a large investment.”

Removing the cap offers dual benefits besides, improving transmission efficiency (being a distributed generation), creating job opportunities and improving the living standards of land owners. Additionally, they will also enable DISCOMs in replacing the costlier power purchased from inter-state conventional generating sources. Thus, offering significant savings on energy charges and annual revenue requirement.

Solar developers are keen to set up the open access projects in Haryana beyond 500 MW. HAREDA (nodal agency) has already received the application for more than 1,500 MW under the order and therefore, the exemption needs to be extended beyond 500 MW without offering any differential treatment neither to consumers or generators, according to an emailed response by DiSPA.

In October 2018, Haryana Renewable Energy Development Agency (HAREDA) had issued guidelines for MW-scale ground mounted and rooftop projects, for captive consumption or third party sale, under the Haryana Solar Power Policy 2016.

The guidelines provide a policy framework to enable the expansion of MW capacity solar power projects, facilitate their implementation, enhance the confidence of project developers, and fulfill renewable purchase obligation (RPO) requirements. HERC had approved regulations for the control period from FY2017-18 to FY2020-21.

According to the guidelines, “Wheeling charges, cross-subsidy charges, transmission and distribution charges and additional surcharges will be completely waived for third party sale or open access consumers of energy from ground mounted or rooftop solar projects commissioned during the control period. The waivers are applicable until the state achieves its goal of 500 MW of installed capacity.”

According to Guru Inder Mohan Singh, COO of Amplus Energy Solutions and the President of DiSPA, “There is a huge requirement from commercial and industrial and corporate consumers in the state of Haryana. Now, 500 MW of solar capacity will supply 150 MW equivalent on conventional energy when we account for plant load factor (PLF). This is nothing as Haryana is home to national as well as multinational corporates.”

“We have requested HERC to remove this upper cap of 500 MW for open access solar so that corporates who want to buy clean green energy can do so freely and easily. This will also result in a greater number of ground-mounted as well as rooftop solar projects in Haryana. According to me, Haryana has open access solar PV potential of up to 2,000 MW and upper cap will inhibit the state in realizing this potential,” added Singh.

Singh also said that the removal of upper cap will mean that more developers will venture into open access solar in Haryana, which does not have that many solar project installations. Compared to Punjab, a state with similar land area, Haryana has nothing to show in terms of solar installations. Removal of cap will usher in growth of solar in the state and also provide some added income to farmers in the form of rent collected by leasing land for solar projects.

According to  Mercom’s India Solar Project Tracker,  Haryana only has 60 MW of installed solar capacity to date.

Saumy Prateek Saumy is a senior staff reporter with MercomIndia.com covering business and energy news since 2016. Prior to Mercom, Saumy was a copy editor at Thomson Reuters. Saumy earned his Bachelors Degree in Journalism & Mass Communication from the Manipal Institute of Communication at Manipal University. More articles from Saumy Prateek.