The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission announced net-metering guidelines for Delhi in 2014, allowing consumers to generate solar power for their own use while feeding the surplus into the network of distribution companies.
Now, two Discoms in Delhi announced recently that they have started net-metering at six locations in the city — four residential, one commercial building in south Delhi and a school in the east. As of now they have received 50 applications and around 500 queries for net-metering. Those numbers are minuscule in comparison to what is reported from other solar markets, but they are a writing on the wall. With nearly 300 days of sunshine, Delhi reportedly has a rooftop potential of 2 GW. Rooftop solar can drastically bring down the city’s power demand which is around 3,500 MW per day.
Net metering is still in its infancy in India, compared to the much more established utility scale solar power plants. With only 9.75 MW capacity, Gujarat is the leading state for roof-top solar installations in India (23.6% of the total 41.24 MW). Punjab is a close second with 7.52 MW roof-top solar power (but then you have got to consider that all this capacity comes from a single project!).
The net metering regulations in Delhi explain that surplus solar electricity produced in a month will get carried forward, as an electricity credit in the electricity bill of the next month and so on. Finally at the end of the financial year, the net surplus electricity would be credited to the consumer at a rate of Rs5/kWh. This rate would be subject to revisions annually.
The scheme thus provides an incentive to those who are paying high electricity tariff (high end residential consumers and commercial consumers) to go solar.
Consumers going solar would also help the Discoms as the electricity generated under these regulations will qualify towards compliance of Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) for the distribution licensee (unless of course the consumer is an obligated entity).
This can be an important tool to push Discoms for RPO compliance, who were otherwise complaining on the lack of installed solar power in Delhi to meet their needs. DERC’s net metering regulations also make it clear that consumers owning solar rooftop systems will now be considered as ‘power producers’ and in case of any violations will come under its purview of penalties.
For now the Centre provides a capital subsidy of 30% on solar equipment. The Delhi government had discontinued financial assistance about two years ago. However, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has indicated that it could reduce the central capital subsidy from the current 30% to 15%.