Net metering key to rooftop sunshine

GoI’s plans to train 1 lakh people to install, maintain and service rooftop solar panels, and develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem of vendors for implementing the PM Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana is a move in the right direction. This initiative holds the potential to significantly increase the adoption of rooftop solar systems among the scheme’s target households. However, to fully realise its benefits, GoI needs to address structural issues related to electricity market design and tariff, power purchase contracts, and infrastructure requirements.

The promise of 300 units of free electricity for setting up rooftop solar panels is attractive. However, since many states give free power, setting up solar panels seems like an additional effort with no significant benefit. Outreach to target consumers, and increasing their awareness of the benefits of switching to rooftop solar, must be an integral effort of this programme. The on-ground outreach in Ayodhya for rooftop solar could serve as a template in other towns and cities.

A major impediment is the slow rollout of the net metering system. This is essential to account for electricity produced, consumed, and put into the grid by households that generate solar power. Without proper net metering, the economic incentive for these households is lost. Distribution companies aren’t keen to undertake the investment required for net metering because of the varying cost of power. Discoms have not warmed up to rooftop solar because of the long-term power purchase agreements they are locked into. Success of the scheme hinges on getting all stakeholders to the table, addressing the challenges they face, and fostering a collaborative approach.


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