Indian State Plans To Cover 300 Government Buildings With Rooftop Solar Power Projects

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Governments across Indian states seem to be scrambling to launch programs to set up solar rooftop projects after the success of such projects in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state. The latest state to join the bandwagon is the southern state of Tamil Nadu, which has had years of supply-demand issues in the power sector.

The Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA) has announced plans to set up solar rooftop projects at about 300 government buildings across the states and has floated tenders for the same. The agency is believed to be already working on two projects of aggregate capacity of 85 kW at the governor’s house and the headquarters of the local power utility. A 30 kW project at the state legislative building is expected to be commissioned soon.

As per the tender issued by the agency, 50 village government buildings and 234 local governments across the state would be covered with rooftop solar power projects of 7 kW capacity each. Once the contracts are awarded the agency expects the projects to be commissioned within 90 days.

The initiative is part of the state’s solar power policy, which aims to increase installed solar power capacity to 3,000 MW as per its solar power policy released in 2012. The state government is supposed to allocate this capacity among project developers by 2015. However, the implementation of the policy is almost certain to be delayed. Of the 3,000 MW capacity, about 12% (or 350 MW) has been reserved for the rooftop segment.

Compared to Tamil Nadu’s targeted solar power capacity, India’s cumulative installed capacity stands at 2,821 MW (May 2014). Thus, the target may seem quite ambitious but the government has also implemented policies to create supply for solar power. The central government has set a target to increase the share of solar power in total national consumption to 3% by 2020 whereas Tamil Nadu has set a target of 6% for the industrial sector. Large industrial units would be required to purchase solar power to cover at least 6% of their total power consumption 2014 onwards. Smaller industrial units have to purchase at least 2%.

A number of companies in Tamil Nadu have already set up several small-scale grid-connected solar power projects. A number of these companies are using the power generated for their own use while earning Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for the environmental attributes of the power generated. The companies have taken up this route as the state utility has been unable to meeting their electricity demand for several years now. The southern Indian states are connected with the rest of the country through very few transmission links. As a result, they face a significant gap in demand and supply of electricity.

Image credit: Amaresh S K (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Mridul Chadha

Mridul currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.

Mridul Chadha has 425 posts and counting. See all posts by Mridul Chadha

20 thoughts on “Indian State Plans To Cover 300 Government Buildings With Rooftop Solar Power Projects

  • India is very, very fertile ground for solar and wind. It’s a democracy, so politicians are responsive to the demands of key constituencies, both poor and middle class. It has a huge unsatisfied demand for power, unmet by a combination of inefficient state companies running coal, generation, and the grid, and subsidies to farmers (= key voters) that prevent any market balancing of supply and demand. It has a large number of well-trained engineers. And plenty of sun and wind. Modi has ridden the solar wave to power with greater success than others, but any competent politician can read the situation in the same way. They will all make mistakes of course, but rapid growth of renewables is assured.

    • My experience with India is that the country is full of people who put a lot of energy and effort into looking for a way to make some money. Hundreds of millions of people with an entrepreneurial outlook.

      Solar installation is an ideal technology for a small startup. Between organized micro-solar programs and independent installers selling modest and larger solar systems I would expect small scale standalone and grid-tied solar to boom.

      • To buttress your point about small scale and grid-tied solar is an article about nanogrids (infact even over microgrids) in the developing world.
        One of the commenters points out nanogrids work really well where 24-7 power isn’t required (because they have few applications for it currently), but several hours a day could do wonders for the population. India would be perfect for it due to their large rural (and in some areas restive) population.

          • So if the water pumps need to run only a few hours a day, can the power from the solar panels be used for something else when the pumps aren’t running?

          • I suspect solar powered pumps are going to educate a lot of people about solar in more remote areas of India. As people experience solar working they are going to want panels for lighting, etc. The pump installations may be too far from residences to contribute to a local grid, but in some cases any extra they generate may flow into the mini-grid batteries.

          • I ran across an interesting (to me) article about solar in the tribal areas of Pakistan…

            “Majority of the people in our village have installed the solar panels as there is no electricity in our area,” Nisar, a resident of Sheikhan village told this correspondent. He said that it was the cheapest source of energy as it could easily be installed on rooftop or any other place inside the house to run fans, room coolers and other appliances.

            “We charge the batteries at daytime to run the fans and room cooler for the whole night uninterruptedly,” he said. He said that small families should use solar system instead of the electricity provided by Pesco to avoid inflated power bills and prolonged loadshedding.

            Noor Wali Afridi, another businessman, said that he had sold out thousands of solar panels during the current year as people had no other option to protect themselves from the sizzling heat, particularly in the cemented homes.

            He said that people were using solar panels in winter too. Maximum of the clients belonged to rural areas, particularly the people residing in the villages near the border of Khyber Agency and Darra Adamkhel, he said.

            Mr Afridi said that he himself was residing in a village in Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency where people were facing acute water shortage because supply of electricity was next to nil.

            He said that lawlessness, prolonged curfew and restriction on movement had made life of people miserable. They could not demand smooth power supply but the best way for them was to install the solar system to get some sort of relief, he added.


            If solar has made it’s way into the tribal areas it’s made it everywhere….

          • I was thinking of things like lamp charging. Batteries would work, too.

    • The inefficient archaic state coal companies probably helps hugely in getting solar adoption up. They’re too corrupt and powerful to change (or privatize I don’t know) and too cumbersome to fight renewable energy. If someone knows more correct me if I’m wrong.

      • They are having problems getting coal and they have a shortage of water. Good time to install solar PV>

        • There’s never a bad time to install solar. Some times are better than others.

      • While I won’t deny that the large scale generators and distributors deal with the same amount of corruption found in any facet of the Indian government or industry. It has also been shown that they have to deal with a large number of pirate connections especially in the cities, a totally different type of corruption. These losses are known to equal 2-4 times the typical transmission losses dealt with by companies here in the US, and a large factor of the regular blackouts.
        So lots of affordable distributed generation will see to it that the power is on when and where it is needed, and help to cut down on all facets of the corruption issue.

  • India is absolutely perfect for solar power. And it’s nice to see the government leading by example.

    With an ambitious nuclear program, plenty of hydro left to utilize and lots of potential for wind power the energy future for India looks bright.

    • India’s nuclear programme has always been ambitious, and will stay that way. What use to politicians is a technology that cannot possibly (counterfactually assuming Chinese construction times) deliver any power before the next election?

      • I believe India is working on Thorium reactors. According to the nuke boys and girls on miscellaneous and sundry blogs, that will change the entire power game and put humans on a path towards peace and prosperity. In the mean time, thorium was an economic growth engine west of Chicago. About $10+ billion was spent cleaning up an old processing facility.

        • “According to the nuke boys and girls on miscellaneous and sundry blogs, that [thorium] will change the entire power game and put humans on a path towards peace and prosperity.”

          Don’t hold your breath. You could faint and fall over.

          You can hurt yourself doing that.

  • I love how the CONSERVATIVE politician in India is a big fan of solar PV. I wish our conservatives would see the (sun) light. But they are too busy getting contributions from fossil fuel lobbyists.

    • India does not have a liberal party. The ones you think that are liberal are in bed with conservatives from a different group.

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