Sunday, August 18, 2013

Indian Updates: Delhi govt plans incentive for green power (18 Aug 2013)

The Times of India

Delhi govt plans incentive for green power

NEW DELHI: If you generate power from a rooftop solar project, the Delhi government will soon incentivize your efforts. A new solar policy upholds "production-based subsidy" which means that the government will pay you for the units of energy you save by using solar power. As of now, there is a "capital subsidy" scheme which involves a rebate of a fixed sum on installation of solar water heaters in Delhi.

While this policy can inspire consumers to invest in solar energy, the Delhi environment department officials say that it can be implemented only after Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission(DERC) notifies net metering guidelines. Through a net metering system the utility can monitor how much solar energy a consumer is generating at home and if the consumer is generating more power than his requirements, then excess power is returned to the grid.

The consumer is paid for the units that he generates in excess. Over and above the feed-in tariff, the Delhi government is planning to give a small subsidy to producers of solar power. "It will be a nominal subsidy over what they get by feeding in excess power," said an environment department official.

"Our policy moves away from the current method of giving capital subsidies. The highlight of the policy will be production-based subsidy where customers will be reimbursed based on the units of energy saved. This we hope will motivate customers to invest in solar rooftop projects and solar water heaters and also to maintain them," environment secretary, Sanjeev Kumar told TOI.

"It should be ready shortly. DERC has to fix the tariff and net metering system before it goes to cabinet for approval," he added.

The concern with solar heaters was that despite the capital subsidy people were not using it. "People don't maintain the solar water heaters and stop using it after a point. If the subsidy is generation-based and customers are reimbursed every month for it, they will maintain their systems," said another official.

Environmentalists are excited about the new policy because it is customer centric. "We have supported a production-based subsidy policy all along. It is better because it keeps the customer engaged and motivated to maintain a solar generation system. An upfront payment of subsidy like in capital subsidy is not as effective," said Abhishek Prata, renewable energy campaigner, Greenpeace India.

The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission has prepared guidelines on net metering which will be released next week. "The guidelines include every detail on metering, energy accounting and how commercial transactions will be done. Any state government can straighta way use the document to regulate net metering," said Rakesh Shah, advisor, CERC. The guidelines are based on net metering systems in Germany and US.

In 2012, the Delhi government had scrapped its previous solar policy. The government officials had felt that the scheme could be exploited on many grounds and people could produce power through cheaper means and sell it to utilities at a higher rate. But this is not possible according to experts. "Through net metering you can monitor the source of the energy. I don't think it's the reason for scrapping the previous policy," said Abhishek. Environment department officials said they had to scrap the previous policy because solar power tariff was very high then. "Now, it's almost at par with conventional energy," said an official.

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