Centre may make Solar Rooftop Systems Mandatory

The Central government is likely to make it mandatory for buildings to install solar rooftop systems. The proposal is among the initiatives planned by the Government of India to support the massive solar capacity addition target (100 GW by 2022).

An official statement has indicated that there would be a proposal for amendment in building norms for mandatory provision of solar rooftop systems for new construction and 10% renewable energy provision for end-customers under the new scheme of Ministry of Urban Development.

Generally, about 10 sq.m area is required to set up 1 kWp grid-connected solar rooftop system. The average cost of such system is around Rs.80 per watt. This is still a proposal which may or may not become a policy.

Mandatory solar rooftop systems are not new. Similar policies have earlier been formulated by the states of Haryana and Tamil Nadu. Haryana also made it mandatory for all buildings with an area of 500 sq. yards or more to install solar rooftop systems of a minimum size of 1 kW or 5% of their power requirements, whichever is higher. The deadline for meeting the requirements is September 2015.

In all likelihood, there will be large-scale non-compliance to this mandate. The primary reason for non-compliance is that other aspects of the policy are not being effectively implemented. Central and state government subsidies have been announced but they are not available. Net-metering exists on paper but the process for providing inter-connection has not yet been streamlined. In fact, hardly any permission has been provided for net-metering.

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Pilot Rooftop Solar Plant at Embassy Manyata Business Park

Embassy Office Parks launches its pilot solar power program as part of its sustainability initiatives at its office parks across the country. The company has completed the first-phase of a pilot 450 KW rooftop solar plant at Embassy Manyata Business Park. This project comprises of 1,800 solar panels constructed over three roof tops and is expected to generate 7,10,000 units of power annually.

“This pilot program is expected to cater to around 5 per cent of the total consumption of all the three buildings and is a continuation of a strong commitment by Embassy Office Parks to invest in and leverage solar power and other renewable energy sources within its office parks across Bangalore, Pune and Noida. The rooftop solar plant is expected to reduce 575 tons of CO2 emission per year,” said Mike Holland, CEO, Embassy Office Parks.

He further said, “As a responsible developer and asset manager Embassy Office Parks is exploring multiple ways of enhancing sustainability efforts across our development portfolio. Our projects have been designed and built to be environment friendly; and our commitment to sustainability programs is ongoing. We believe such programs need to be a continuing focus – both for us and our clients occupying space in our office parks. The launch of this rooftop solar project at Embassy Manyata Business Park is a step in this direction and we will continue to invest in such programs.”

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Indian Railways to Procure 200MW of Solar Power

Indian Railways is planning to float tenders to procure at least 200 mega watt of solar energy in the next two months. Union Minister of State for Railways Manoj Kumar Sinha said the Centre is presently working out details of the plan. This tender is part of Railways’ plan to procure 1000 mega watt of solar energy over the next five years.

“We have fixed a target of procuring 1000 mega watt solar power in the whole Indian Railways. We are working on it. We are going to float a tender for at least 200 mega watts in next two months. We have plenty of rooftops available in Indian Railways (to install the panels),” he said.

Railways proposes to harness solar energy by utilising rooftop space through public private partnership (PPP) mode as per feasibility, the modalities of which are being worked out.

According to the plan, Railways plans to install solar power plants of about 8.8 MW capacity at railway stations, railway office buildings and level crossing gates throughout the country under railway funding. These include provision of 10 KWp solar PV modules each at 200 stations under various Zonal Railways, provision of total 4.05 MWp Solar Photo Voltaic (SPV) at roof top of 21 railway office buildings and provision of total 1.3 MWp capacity Solar Photo Voltaic (SPV) plants at 2000 Level Crossing gates on Indian railways.

The generation of solar supply will help railways supply power at remote locations and save in diesel due to reduced running of diesel generators, officials said.

Recently, the Railways rolled out a non-AC coach of Rewari-Sitapur passenger train lit by solar panels installed on its roof.

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SECI will be renamed as RECI

Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) can now register itself as a Section-3 company to do commercial activities and rename it as Renewable Energy Corporation of India (RECI). This was approved by the Indian government.

Apart from solar power, the proposed RECI will take up development of all segments of renewable energy namely geo-thermal, off-shore wind, tidal etc. The government has also decided to enlarge the scope of the activities of SECI to cover all renewable energy sources, with a view to provide a comprehensive and optimised solution for generation of renewable energy integrating various sources.

SECI is a Section-8 company under the Companies Act, which provides for formation of companies with charitable, objects. Under this provision, the commercial aspect of a business entity and its growth is completely prohibited. The decision will enable SECI to own solar power plants for generating and selling electricity and take up other commercial activities like manufacturing of solar products and materials.

For the first time, SECI made a profit of about 12 crore during the last financial year and has become a networth positive PSU. It is also expected to make a profit of around Rs 300 crore this year.

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1MW Canal Top System on Krishna River by SunEdison

SunEdison Inc., announced the completion of a 1-megawatt  DC canal top solar power plant built for Krishna Bhagya Jala Nigam Ltd (KBJNL), the Karnataka government agency responsible for the Krishna River and Dam.

Pashupathy Gopalan, President of SunEdison Asia-Pacific said: “SunEdison is extremely proud to successfully install and commission this canal top system on the banks of the Krishna River for the Karnataka government. It is wonderful to see other state governments embrace this innovative use of solar technology, which was pioneered by SunEdison for the Narmada Canal Top Project in Gujarat in 2012.”

As the name implies, canal top solar system is built over water canals. This type of system provides several unique benefits:

  • Solar generated electricity saves large amounts of water compared to fossil fuel generated electricity.
  • Canal top system saves even more water by shielding the canals from the direct sun and hence reducing evaporation.
  • Canal top system free up the surrounding land for other uses.
  • Canal top system operate at cooler temperatures than conventional land based systems and generate more energy as a result.

Mr. Gopalan added: “We thank the Karnataka Government, the Honourable Chief Minister Shri Siddaramaiah, the Honourable Energy Minister Shri D. K. Shivakumar and the KBJNL authorities for their support in this project. We also thank the local community for their support during the project execution.”

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Solutions to Achieve Solar Rooftop Targets of India

The government has announced a target of 100 GW of solar energy generation capacity by 2022, of which 40 GW is expected to be achieved through decentralised and rooftop scale solar projects. Easy credit availability and increased consumer awareness would help the government in achieving the target to add 40 GW solar rooftop capacity by 2022, Care Ratings has said.

“Implementation of solar rooftop systems can be accelerated in India if solar solutions are easily available and accessible as a complete package, easy financial assistance is available and there is increasing awareness amongst consumers about its economic and environmental benefits,” the rating agency said.

Currently, the solar rooftop market is relatively at a nascent stage with just under 300 MW of installed capacity till the end of 2014.

The government, in its phase-II (2013-17) of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), has put emphasis on off-grid and decentralised solar applications with an objective to promote grid connected solar rooftop and small SPV power generating plants among residential, community, institutional, industrial and commercial establishments.

The Ministry of Finance has also asked public sector banks to encourage home loan/home improvement loan seekers to install solar rooftop systems and include the cost of such equipment in their home loan proposals.

“Since the solar rooftop market is at a nascent stage, capital subsidy alone may not be the solution to achieve targeted installations but comprehensive solar solutions is the need of the hour. Promoting solar rooftop for self-consumption could be the most important step towards popularising solar rooftop installations,” it said.

“Government policies should also put emphasis on encouraging power generation through decentralised solar rooftop systems at the point of consumption rather than only providing capital subsidy.

“One of the ways could be through providing generation based incentives for end-users including the household segment which can drive growth of solar rooftop systems without putting any additional burden on distribution and transmission infrastructure while at the same time achieving targets for renewable energy installations,” it added.

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Japan’s Softbank offers to make Andhra Pradesh a model State

Japan’s Softbank Corp. founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Masayoshi Son met Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and offered to make Andhra Pradesh a model State in solar and wind hybrid projects in the country. Softbank was interested to collaborate with the Government of Andhra Pradesh in renewable energy.

Mr. Son met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and promised to make $20 billion investments in solar and wind energy projects in the next 10 years. He said Soft Bank has formed a joint venture with Bharti Enterprises to make investments in renewable energy. SoftBank will have majority control in the newly formed company, SBG Cleantech, with Bharti and Foxconn as minority stakeholders.

Explaining the advantages offered by Andhra Pradesh, the Chief Minister told Mr. Son the State has a long coast which makes it a potential logistics hub for South East Asia. Mr. Naidu informed Mr. Son that AP has unveiled Solar and Wind policies that allow solar and wind hybrid model projects. Seeking SoftBank’s collaboration in renewable energy, he said “ We need your support in working on socially responsible programs and in a sustainable way”.

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Japan’s SoftBank to Invest about $20 Billion in Solar Projects in India

Japan’s SoftBank Corp, together with Bharti Enterprises and Taiwan’s Foxconn, will invest about $20 billion in solar projects in India, in one of the biggest investment pledges to date in the country’s renewable energy sector. This news came after 2 days of the announcement that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian Cabinet approved increasing the country’s solar target five times to a goal of reaching 100 GW, up from 20 GW, by 2022. Earlier the Public sector banks (PSBs) in India had collectively committed Rs. 60,000 crore (just for starters) towards the revised solar energy target, with State Bank of India committing Rs. 20,000 crore alone.

SoftBank, which previously said it would invest $10 billion in India over time, said on Monday the companies had agreed a minimum commitment of generating 20 gigawatts of energy. SoftBank will have majority control in the newly formed company, SBG Cleantech, with Bharti and Foxconn as minority stakeholders.

“India has two times the sunshine of Japan. The cost of construction of the solar park is half of Japan. Twice the sunshine, half the cost, that means four times the efficiency,” said SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. “India can become probably the largest country for solar energy,” he added.

Son said the timeline for investments would depend on state and central governments and on acquiring land needed for the plants.

The rapidly falling cost of solar power, expected to reach parity with conventional energy by 2017, has ignited interest in its potential in India, as the country steps up its own efforts to encourage investment in renewable energy.

Son said Foxconn would help with planned solar equipment for the projects. The companies are looking at manufacturing equipment in India, a further boon for Modi who has sought to boost the portion of equipment made at home (Make In India)

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Rooftop Solar to Cut Total Grid Demand to Zero in South Australia

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) predicts that the growing uptake of rooftop solar by homes and businesses will reduce grid demand in South Australia on certain occasions to zero by 2023. The predictions from AEMO came in its 2015 National Electricity Forecasting Report. It says that the nearly 575MW of rooftop solar is already accounting for one-third of total grid demand on certain days in the state.

But within a decade this total could treble, pushing minimum demand required from the grid in the whole state to below 0MW (zero) on some occasions in 2023-24, and for several hours at a time by 2024/25 – when AEMO expects 1864MW of rooftop solar. This forecast is based on AEMO’s “medium scenario”. Given the propensity to underestimate the proliferation of solar deployment, it is worth mentioning AMEO’s high scenario, which suggests capacity of around 2,200MW of rooftop solar by 2024/25, and more than 3,000MW a decade later.

The high scenario suggests that rooftop solar will account for nearly one-quarter of the state’s total annual demand within a decade and nearly one-third of annual demand by 2034/35, when the rooftop solar market reaches “saturation”.

The state already sources one-third of its demand from wind generation, suggesting that on AEMO’s numbers the state will easily beat the state government’s 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2025, and that does not include the number of wind projects and large-scale solar projects that could be built over the next five years.

rooftop prediction- south australia

AEMO will also shortly release inaugural Emerging Technology Information Paper, which will look at the viability of battery storage solutions for Australian residential consumers over the next 20 years, and the uptake of other technologies such as electric vehicles.

South Australia will be a test case for Australia, and indeed the world, because of its high level of “variable renewables” such as wind and solar in its energy mix.

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Solar Has Come of Age in Japan

Japan’s solar energy sector is fast approaching profitability, ahead of impending feed-in-tariff (FiT) cuts, according to the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation (JREF).

JREF expects to reach cost-revenue parity and to achieve profitability sometime earlier than the second half of 2015. Also Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry will be cutting FiT rates by 16% in July.

According to the JREF, the trend towards these predictions is partly due to the supportive governmental policies that followed the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, these policies were intended to help the country move away from nuclear energy altogether. Since the Fukushima disaster, Japan has added an impressive 25 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy capacity and out of this 20GW is from solar energy projects.

“Solar has come of age in Japan and from now on will be replacing imported uranium and fossil fuels,” stated JREF executive board chairman Tomas Kaberger. “In trying to protect their fossil fuel and nuclear plants, Japan’s electric power companies can only delay developments here.”

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