The Indian solar industry is shut down because of the nationwide lockdown in place because of the Coronavirus outbreak. Current restrictions have disrupted day-to-day business activities.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) recently issued a memorandum addressing the problems that the renewable energy generating stations are facing while sending invoices for renewable energy supplied amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It laid out guidelines for billing and invoicing for solar, wind, hybrid, small hydro, waste-to-energy, biomass power generating stations.
In its memorandum, it waived off invoice and billing hard-copy submission requirements to reduce the need for individuals to be physically present at different locations. It also suggested other measures like using photographs of meter readings, downloading meter data, and making payments based on invoices from the same period in the preceding year.
The power sector is still very dependent on manual processes and paperwork.
At times like these, companies and other establishments make the best use of existing technological resources. Good examples for these are mobile applications (apps) and the internet.
While private apps like Paytm, FreeCharge, Mobikwik, PhonePe, have been around for a while to help consumers pay their electricity bills through online payment modes, there are a plethora of other apps that are aimed at more specific needs.
Mercom has previously written about these apps and other web-based services created by project developers, policymakers, government officials, manufacturers, and suppliers in the power and renewable energy industry to encourage interaction, increase transparency and improve customer understanding of India’s renewable energy market.
This article is a follow-up and aims to shed light on new India solar and power-related applications and services, and also the status of the existing ones.
There haven’t been many new entrants since Mercom’s last story, but at least 6 of these apps are not available in the Android Play Store anymore. All of these apps and services are available for free on either iOS, Android, or the Web.
PRAAPTI – This is the latest addition to the country’s portfolio of power-related apps. The Payment Ratification And Analysis in Power procurement for bringing Transparency in Invoicing of generators (PRAAPTI) portal was launched in May 2018 by the Ministry of Power (MoP) to ensure transparency in power purchase transactions between generators and distribution companies (DISCOMs).
IEX India: The IEX India app monitors electricity prices discovered on the Indian Energy Exchange (IEX) as well as other market-related developments. It allows users to check the spot price and availability of units of electricity. The app can be used by consumers to demand an adequate electricity supply based on the numbers shown in the app.
AHA Solar Rooftop Helper: This app is a platform that estimates the cost of installing a solar PV rooftop system using factors such as the estimated system size to help determine the approximate cost, applicable government incentives, and financing options. It also connects users with information about nearby rooftop solar PV installers and provides them with information on the prerequisites needed to construct a solar rooftop system. The platform is designed to connect end consumers with solar PV installers while offering information about solar power and customized solutions for those interested in adopting solar technology.
Surya Mitra: This is a GPS-based app designed for solar customers who need service or repairs. Users can use the app to send a message to the nearest trained Surya Mitra agent who can provide the necessary maintenance or repairs. The app can also be used by prospective customers who are looking to install a small solar photovoltaic power project.
Last updated: December 5, 2019. The app is available on Android
Vidyut Pravah: This app provides information on power availability in India on a real-time basis. It contains data on the market price of power from the power exchange, the total current power demand in GW, as well as information on power shortages across the various Indian states, including peak hour and total energy shortages. Real-time data and comparisons with data from previous days or years are also available. Through this app, data from multiple sources – including states and power exchanges – is available through a single portal. The goal of the app is to give consumers the ability to make sure that the information being provided by utilities regarding power shortages is accurate and put pressure on utilities when power is cut.
UJALA: The UJALA app provides real-time updates on the ongoing distribution of LEDs across India under the Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) program. The app allows users to view detailed distribution counts for each state as well as kiosk locations in different areas. Consumers can use this app to get cheap LED lights that will make their homes more energy-efficient.
URJA: The Urja app captures consumer-centric parameters from IT systems created under the Integrated Power Development Program (IPDS) that covers 1,222 towns across India. Towns are ranked based on the redressal of consumer complaints, the release of new service connections, the average number of service interruptions, the average duration of interruptions, the number of consumers making e-payments, and AT&C losses. Information is aggregated to derive rankings for both DISCOMs and states. The goal is to generate a sense of positive competition and to enable the sharing of best practices.
Bijli Bazaar: This app tracks prices in India’s power market along with demand and power supply. It generates state performance data using the information on the cost of power purchased from both states and center generation, IPPs, exchanges, and renewable generation sources. Consumers can use the app to monitor the actual availability, demand, and supply of electricity, information that can then be used to make state agencies answerable and efficient.
Last updated: October 27, 2016. The app is available on Android
Bijli Vyapaar: This app is a power-trading tool that serves market participants who trade on power exchanges. Through the app, open access users trading through PTC India can place bids on power exchanges for the sale and purchase of power using their mobile phones. The app provides convenience, ease of business, and error-free bidding for PTC clients who trade power on the exchanges.
Last updated: May 17, 2019. The app is available on Android
Urja Mitra: This app is an outage management and notifications platform that dissipates outage information to power distribution consumers across India using SMS texts, calls, and push notifications. It also enables citizens to access real-time and historic DISCOM outage information.
Saubhagya Web Portal: This web portal is designed to monitor the progress of household electrification in India. Every state can enter the current status of their electrification work into this online platform, thereby creating an accountability system that increases the viability of state utilities and DISCOMs.
The portal can be accessed on the Web at http://saubhagya.gov.in/
National Power Portal (NPP): The National Power Portal (NPP) is a centralized hub for the collation and dissemination of information on the Indian power sector. The portal facilitates the online capture and input of information from generation, transmission, and distribution utilities in the country on a daily, monthly, and annual basis. It also distributes power sector information – such as operational, capacity, demand, supply, and consumption information – through various reports, graphs, and statistics that analyze data for generation, transmission, and distribution across India on regional and state levels. The information can then be used by central, state, and private sector entities.
The NPP can be accessed at http://npp.gov.in/
MERIT Web Portal: The Merit Order Dispatch of Electricity for Rejuvenation of Income and Transparency (MERIT) web portal displays information about merit orders – that is, the ranking of the available sources of energy – for electricity being procured by the states. The material displayed includes information such as daily state-by-state marginal variable costs for all generators, the daily sources of the power purchased by respective states with both fixed and variable costs, energy volumes, and purchase prices. The web portal also has information on the reasons for deviations from merit orders like must-run conditions and transmission constraints.
The link to the portal has been updated
Tarang: The Tarang app enables real-time monitoring of India’s transmission sector. Users can follow upcoming transmission projects and monitor the progress of both interstate and intra-state transmission systems. The app has the potential to help stakeholders, the Ministry of Power, state governments, private sector transmission developers, and PSUs like the Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. to expedite project completion. Consumers can also use the app to make transmission utilities answerable for the quality of their service.
The following apps are no longer available on the Google Play Store:
ARUN: The ARUN app provides information about rooftop solar systems; guidelines for the installation of rooftop solar systems; a calculator for determining installation cost; methods of installation for rooftop solar systems; programs and policies related to rooftop solar in different states; and a list of State Nodal Agencies and approved private agencies for each state. Customers can submit inquiries through the app and learn about rooftop solar and its progress in India. They can also learn about the applicable policies in a region.
GARV: This app provides data about the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) program being run by MNRE. It covers all the villages that have been electrified and show their progress toward the ultimate target goal. People can use the GARV app to track rural electrification efforts being undertaken by the DDUGJY.
GARV-II: This app provides real-time data that tracks the progress of household electrification across 600,000 Indian villages. The app hosts data for more than 1.5 million homes and 170 million people. Consumers can use it to see when their villages will be electrified.
UDAY: The UDAY app provides all data and information on the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) program. Through this app, consumers, policymakers, and investors can all keep track of states where DISCOMs are making improvements and functioning as expected. The app provides real-time data on all DISCOM-related topics, allowing consumers to see the condition of their state DISCOMs and compare them to other states. This information may also make people aware of how they can contribute to lowering AT&C losses.
SPV4ALL: The app enables users to estimate the electricity production of a grid-connected or off-grid solar photovoltaic system. With a few input parameters, the app can calculate the estimated value of electricity production, the capital investment cost, CO2 savings, and estimated payback period. It can also find local solar PV installers for a user’s particular solar PV system.
Hawa Badlo: This app is designed to create awareness about air pollution and educate people on how they can help reduce it. It also enables citizens to report incidents of leaf and garbage burning, building and construction dust, and unpaved road dust, thereby supplementing the municipal corporation’s efforts to curb air pollution. The app filters out dubious and false complaints. After authentication, reports are forwarded to the officials in charge of resolving them by tracking their progress and promoting the fastidious action against the offenders. Consumers can use the app to log violations, and EPCA personnel can do the same.
Nithin Thomas is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Previously with Reuters News, he has covered oil, metals and agricultural commodity markets across global markets. He has also covered refinery and pipeline explosions, oil and gas leaks, Atlantic region hurricane developments, and other natural disasters. Nithin holds a Masters Degree in Applied Economics from Christ University, Bangalore and a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from Loyola College, Chennai. More articles from Nithin.