The local government of India’s capital New Delhi has been urged to increase the solar power generation capacity as significant solar resource potential exists and the country’s renewable energy policy requires the utilities to procure a set minimum percentage of electricity from solar power projects.
Under the Renewable Purchase Obligation, or RPO regulations in India, the power distribution companies of Delhi and all other states are required to procure a set minimum percentage of the electricity from renewable energy sources. There is a separate target for solar power as well.
Unlike most states in India, Delhi is not well-endowed with renewable energy sources. The capital has a very limited generation capacity of its own and is heavily dependent on other states and even Bhutan to fulfil its rising electricity demand.
The capital is not rich in wind, biomass, or hydro energy resources. This leaves only solar power. While Delhi does not have any vast stretches of land where large utility-scale solar power projects can be installed, there is significant potential for a large number of solar rooftop projects.
According to an analysis by a London-based research & analytic company Climate Connect, the utilities in Delhi should have contracted solar power projects with a total capacity of around 21 MW to fulfil the renewable purchase obligation for 2012–13. For 2013–14, the utilities would be required to purchase power from 30 MW of solar power projects. According to the data available, Delhi’s utilities have signed contracts with only 2.5 MW of solar power capacity.
While the implementation of RPO regulations in Delhi is as poor as in most states of the country, if the regulator levies penalties on the utilities, the additional financial burden would be directed to the end users as the utilities themselves are reportedly reeling under millions of dollars in debt.
In order to increase the solar energy generation in Delhi the government, utilities, and the regulator must promote investment in the rooftop solar power sector. One of the important sectors for implementation of solar rooftop projects is the telecom sector. The Indian telecom regulator has asked the telecom operators to replace diesel power generators with solar PV systems. Telecom operators can set up solar power systems on the roofs which they have leased for their telecom towers.
Another potential growth approach could be the feed-in tariff program. Delhi’s utilities had introduced this program a few years back and had offered very attractive feed-in tariff to homeowners for their surplus solar power. The program did not take off probably due to the high initial costs involved and lack of knowledge about solar power systems.
If the power regulator decides to levy penalties, the utilities as well as the end users would face substantial financial burdens. Thus, it is in the best interest of the utilities and the homeowners to adopt solar rooftop systems on a wide scale.
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