Indian State Tamil Nadu Eyes 9 Gigawatt Solar Capacity By 2023

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The southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has issued a new solar power policy that sets ambitious operational capacity targets in-line with the recommendations of the central government.

The government of Tamil Nadu, in its solar energy policy 2109 document, has specified an operational solar power capacity target of 9 gigawatts. The government had earlier set a target to achieve 5 gigawatts of operational solar power capacity by the same year. The new target is aligned with the recommendation of the central government’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) that proposed targets for all states corresponding to the solar RPO targets of 8% by 2022.

India has set a target to increase the share of solar energy in the country’s total energy consumption to 8% by March 2022. To achieve this target, India has set an overall solar power capacity target of 100 gigawatts by March 2022 which has been divided among all states — Tamil Nadu has the fourth largest share at almost 8.9 gigawatts. 

A major new change in the 2023 policy is the focus on rooftop solar power sector. 40%, or 3.6 gigawatts of the planned 9 gigawatts solar power capacity, has been allocated to the consumer category, i.e., rooftop solar power projects. The policy calls for installation of bi-directional meters to facilitate implementation of net-metering.

The policy also mentions the possibility of introduction of time-of-day tariffs for rooftop solar power projects to encourage the producers to supply more power during periods of high demand. There are also proposals for change in laws to mandate installation of rooftop solar power and solar thermal systems at large buildings.

The government will also offer several incentives to power generators, farmers who wish to set up solar power projects on their land, and distribution utilities to encourage installation of solar power capacity.

At present, Tamil Nadu has an installed solar power capacity of 1.95 gigawatts with a share of around 7.5% of the total national installed solar power capacity. While being encouraging, the policy seems far too ambitious to be successfully implemented. The target of 3.6 gigawatts in consumer segment (rooftop solar) seems a herculean task, at best. India’s rooftop solar power capacity currently stands at 1.4 gigawatts. Rooftop solar, tied with net-metering and bi-directional meters, has been virtually non-existent in India despite efforts by regulators and distribution utilities to popularize it.

It is indeed a welcome step on part of the Tamil Nadu government to match its own target with that required by the central government in order to match the national target, but its achievement would likely be extremely difficult.

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