The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is targeting the installation of 118 MW of solar power capacity by March 31, 2020 through off grid solar photovoltaic (PV) applications under Phase-III of Decentralized Solar PV Applications Program.
The President has approved the continuation of Off-grid and Decentralized Solar PV Applications Program in Phase III for the financial year (FY) 2018-19 and FY 2019-20. In FY 2018-19, the deployment of 50 MW is being considered with an outlay of ₹2,760 million (~$40 million). In FY 2019-20, installation of 68 MW with an outlay of ₹3,800 million (~$55 million) is being targeted.
The program aims to install 300,000 solar street lights throughout the country, with a special emphasis on areas in which there are no grid-tied street lighting systems, including the North Eastern States and Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) affected districts.
The program also plans to create solar power projects, each of 25 kW, in areas where grid power is unavailable or is not reliable. Such projects will focus on schools, hostels, panchayats, police stations and other public service institutions. The total capacity of solar power projects to be installed during the program tenure will be 100 MW.
It will also provide 2,500,000 solar study lamps in North Eastern States and LWE affected districts to school-going children, in underdeveloped and remote areas in North Eastern states and LWE affected districts.
- Central financial assistance (CFA) will be provided in general category states for solar street lights and solar power projects. The assistance will be 30 percent of the benchmark cost of the system or the tender cost, whichever is lower.
- In North Eastern States including Sikkim, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, CFA of 90 percent of the benchmark cost or tender cost will be provided, whichever is lower.
- For solar study lamps, a CFA of 85 percent of the lamp cost will be provided and the remaining 15 percent balance will be borne by the beneficiary student.
- A total of 3 percent of the eligible CFA will be provided as service charges to the implementing agencies. The Implementing agency will not impose any additional charges on beneficiaries and/or vendors for the implementation of projects under this program.
- Allocation for solar street lights and solar study lamps will be done by a screening committee, headed by secretary, MNRE, in one session after calculating the demand from the states/UTs.
The program will come in to effect from the date of issue of administrative approval along with its operational guidelines. Mercom recently reported that rooftop, off-grid and decentralized solar are the fulcrum of electricity access for all Indians.