Rooftop, Off-Grid and Decentralized Solar the Fulcrum of Electricity Access to all Indians

The government of India recently claimed total electrification of 597,464 inhabited villages in the country with the electrification of Leisang village in the Senapati district of Manipur. Though the grid has reached all these villages, providing steady electricity supply is still a long and arduous process. In such a scenario, turning to rooftop, off-grid and decentralized solar solutions are both feasible and sustainable options for people.

Through rooftop solar, off-grid solar and decentralized solar appliances, masses can be provided access to electricity at a comparatively lesser cost and the government has been working aggressively on this front. To ensure universal electrification in the country, the government is running programs such as Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (SAUBHAGYA) to electrify all willing households in the country, in rural as well as urban areas using solar power.

In the past, a total of 306,000 solar study lamps were distributed in the state of Rajasthan and 927 people were trained for the local assembly and repair of the solar study lamps. After the program was successfully implemented in May 2016, the MNRE approved the distribution of 500,000 solar study lamps in various states across the country.

A reply by Minister for Power, R. K. Singh, in the Lok Sabha further sheds light on future steps to be taken by the government in this regard.

“The government has approved the continuation of Off Grid and Decentralized Solar PV Application Program: Phase-III. The approval covers installation of 300,000 solar street lights, solar power projects of individual size up to 25 kW and total aggregated capacity of 100 MW and distribution of 2,500,000 solar study lamps. Under the program special emphasis will be given to installation of solar street lights and distribution of solar study lamps in left-wing extremism affected districts,” Singh’s written reply to the Lok Sabha stated.

While replying to another question in the Lok Sabha, Singh said, “A number of initiatives have been taken by the government to promote and implement the grid connected rooftop solar program including in the rural areas of the country.”

He enumerated the following steps:

Providing central financial assistance (CFA) for residential, institutional, social sectors and achievement linked incentives for government sectors through rooftop solar program.

Persuading states for notification of net or gross metering regulations for rooftop solar projects. Now all the 36 States, UTs, SERCs have notified such regulations or tariff orders.

Prepared model MoU, PPA and Capex Agreement for expeditious implementation of rooftop solar projects in government sector.

Allocated ministry-wise expert PSUs for handholding and support in implementation of rooftop projects in various ministries/departments.

Suryamitra program is being implemented for creation of a qualified technical workforce.

Initiated Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (DG S&D) rate contract for solar rooftop systems.

Creation of SPIN – an online platform for expediting project approval, report submission and monitoring progress of implementation of rooftop projects.

Initiated geo-tagging of rooftop project, in co-ordination with ISRO, for traceability and transparency.

Facilitated availability of concessional loans from World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) to SBI and PNB respectively, for disbursal of loans to industrial and commercial sectors, where CFA/incentive is not being provided by the Ministry.

Singh also mentioned that around ₹8,420 million (~$122 million) has been released to various implementing agencies during last two financial years as financial support for installation of grid connected rooftop solar power projects.