New Benchmark Costs Announced for Off-Grid Solar Systems

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has notified new benchmark costs for off-grid solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and solarization of grid-connected agricultural pumps for the financial year (FY) 2019-20.

The new benchmark costs will apply to all the implementing agencies which are involved in developing projects awarded under the off-grid solar PV systems and solarization of grid-connected agricultural pumps.

The pump capacity ranges from 0.5 HP to 10 HP. Below is the table to show the benchmark cost per horsepower (HP) for standalone solar pumps in the general category states and north east regions, hilly states, islands, and union territories (UT).

Standalone Solar Pumps

For solar study lamps, the new benchmark cost is ₹160 (~$2.3)/W compared to ₹250 (~$3.6)/W in the general category states, thus showing a difference of 36%. For the north eastern and hilly states, island and union territories, the benchmark cost is ₹176 (~$2.6)/W compared to ₹275 (~$4.0)/W in the previous year.



For solar street lights (with lithium batteries) in the general category states, the benchmark cost is ₹299 (~$4.4)/W compared to ₹435  (~$6.3)/W in 2018. Similarly, in north eastern and hilly states, islands and union territories, the new benchmark cost shows a difference of 31% with the new rate of ₹ 328 (~$4.8)/W compared to ₹475 (~$6.9)/W in 2018.

Solar Lighting Systems

Standalone Solar Power Plants Packs

With a battery backup of six hours, the new benchmark cost for solar power projects up to 10 kW is ₹ 94 (~$1.4)/W, compared to ₹100 (~$1.5)/W last year. For a capacity of above 10 kW and up to 25 kW, this year’s benchmark cost is ₹84 (~$1.2)/W compared to ₹90 (~$1.3) set for 2018. For solar power projects with a battery backup of three hours, the new benchmark cost in the general category states amounts to ₹66 (~$1.0)/W compared to ₹72 (~$1.0)/Watt last year. In the north eastern states, hilly states, islands, and UTs, the benchmark cost for projects up to 10 kW with a battery backup of six hours is ₹103 (~$1.5)/W compared to ₹110 ($1.6)/W in 2018. For capacity above 10 kW and up to 25 kW, the MNRE’s new benchmark cost amounts to ₹92 (~$1.3)/Watt, showing a decrease of 7% in comparison to the cost in 2018.

For solarization of grid-connected agriculture pumps, the new benchmark cost for capacity up to 10 kW is ₹54 (~$0.79)/Watt in general category states whereas, in the north eastern and hilly states, islands and UTs, it is ₹59 (~$0.86)/Watt. For capacities above 10 kW, it is ₹48 (~$0.70)/Watt in the general category and ₹52 (~$0.76)/Watt in the north eastern and hilly states, islands and UTs.

Solarization of Grid-Connected Agriculture Pumps

The above benchmark costs are inclusive of the total system and its installation, commissioning, transportation, insurance, five-year annual maintenance contract, and comprehensive maintenance contract.

A few weeks ago, Mercom reported that the MNRE issued new rooftop solar benchmark costs for 2019-20, reducing the cost compared to the previous fiscal.

For example, for projects with a capacity of above 1 kW and up to 10 kW, the benchmark cost has been set at ₹54 (~$ 0.79)/W. This is a reduction of ₹6 (~$0.08)/W when compared to the cost set in the previous fiscal in which such projects attracted a benchmark cost of ₹60 (~$0.878)/W.