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)