Rooftop Solar Scheme Proves a Slow Starter

Tepid response to scheme in first 10 months, with power generated falling well short of target, but BESCOM says things are looking up

Published: 28th September 2015 04:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th September 2015 04:53 AM   |  A+A-

QUEEN’S ROAD:  The aim is to harness 200 MW of power by March 2016. But after 10 months, the state government’s grid-connected solar power generation scheme has failed to catch on, with just 104 rooftop installations, with a total capacity of 2.4 MW, completed in BESCOM’s jurisdiction.

The initiative was launched last November following the Central government’s plan to harness 40,000 MW of power from rooftop solar panels by 2022. Karnataka is expected to contribute 2,200-2,300 MW.

Pankaj Kumar Pandey, managing director of BESCOM, the nodal agency to promote the scheme, doesn’t think the numbers are a fair reflection of the scheme’s success. “I don’t see it as a bad response as consumers take time to catch up when it is something new. Besides the 104 installations that have been completed, we have around 300 applications pending. It takes time for us to complete installations,” he said.

Rooftop.jpgAccording to him, it took BESCOM seven months to complete installations that can generate 1 MW. “But in the next one month, we managed to install enough panels to generate 1.4 MW. This shows the scheme is catching on. It is only a matter of time before we achieve our target,” Pandey said.

However, energy experts feel the government has failed to tap into the full potential of the scheme.

M G Prabhakar, chairman, Energy Commission, Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI), told City Express the initial installation charge of the panel, battery and inverter is high and the subsidy provided too low.

In January, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy decreased the subsidy from 30 per cent of the total installation charge to 15 per cent due to financial constraints. According to sources at the Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd, `350 crore is yet to be reimbursed as subsidies.

The scheme

The scheme is open to residential, commercial, educational and industrial consumers. They can use and/or sell thepower generated. Karnataka took the lead in the scheme after the Centre’s ambitious announcement andsubsidies were announced for consumers interested in installing solar panels.

To promote the initiative, the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) asked all power companies to buy solar power at `9.56 a unit from consumers who have not availed the subsidy and at `7.20 a unit from those who have.

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