MNRE Asks Implementing Agencies to Adhere to Grid-Connected Rooftop Solar Guidelines

In a new notification, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has asked all the implementing agencies in the country to adhere to the grid-connected rooftop (GCRT) solar guidelines issued in 2016.

The MNRE order revealed that in some cases, the work orders have been issued on benchmark costs, without going through a transparent bidding process for price discovery. According to MNRE, rooftop solar projects must be awarded based on these guidelines, and the selection of bidders and the discovery of project cost for rooftop solar under MNRE program must be through a transparent competitive bidding process.

When contacted, an MNRE official told Mercom, “If the money is utilized properly, the sector will grow, if projects are being blindly awarded at benchmark prices and then on top of that central financial assistance (CFA) is provided, the government is losing money which can be utilized elsewhere for other programs.”

When asked in which states or union territories this practice is more rampant, the MNRE official said, “We do not want to point fingers, that’s why we have issued a general order for all. Whoever has erred, for them this is a warning. If this is not followed strictly then action will be taken.”

In its order, the MNRE also stated, “Any violation of these guidelines will make the project ineligible for availing CFA from MNRE. Further, any advance amount released for in such cases, will have to be refunded back to the MNRE along with interest.”

Under the guidelines issued by MNRE, for the installation of grid-connected rooftop solar projects for residential, social, and institutional buildings in general category states and union territories, the CFA would be 70 percent of the benchmark cost or the project cost. Moreover, there is an achievement-linked incentive program for rooftop solar projects in government and PSU buildings. The present benchmark cost is ₹75 (~$1.139)/W.

In another notification, MNRE also stated that it is in the process of finalizing the new benchmark costs for off-grid solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and rooftop solar projects for the financial year (FY) 2018-19.

A bottom-up analysis performed by Mercom in its 2017 Q4 Solar Market Update found that India’s rooftop installations grew by 56 percent year-over-year to reach a cumulative total of nearly 1.6 GW on December 31, 2017.