CHENNAI: The State is set to start the New year with an upgraded solar policy in which the target has been raised to generate a whopping 9000 MW, almost double that was set by the government in its Vision 2023.
The policy, released by Edappadi K Palaniswami at the secretariat along with Electricity Minister P Thangamani on Monday, focused on providing an inclusive policy framework that will benefit both, consumer and large-scale producers of solar power generation.
In the previous policy rolled out in October 2012, a target of attaining of 3000 MW by 2015 was fixed. But due to unavailability of net-metres and high installation cost of solar panels, the State has managed to install only 2034 MW as of March 2018.
Out of the 9000 MW target set by the government to be reached by 2023, 40 per cent is said to be achieved purely through consumer scale generation. The policy also aims to encourage more consumers in installing solar rooftops by providing an incentive of exemption from electricity tax for the next two years.
Palaniswami said that this policy is mixture moulded from the targets set according to Vision 2023 released by former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and targets set by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. As per the latter, 9000 MW power was to be generated in the State by 2022.
Experts opined that the current policy has thrown light on much-needed infrastructure, focused on macro level needs of the State and fixed an attainable solar target. “The policy has many positive aspects to it. This includes giving importance to storage of solar power, introduction of bi-directional metres, an introduction of online application form and most importantly, linking ECBC regulations to solar energy,” said Vishnu K, a member of an NGO, Citizen Consumer and Civic Action group.
On the other hand, the policy has failed to chalk out particular targets and feed in tariffs for three categories of utility, consumer and agriculture scale generation. “Due to the new feed-in tariff method, the consumer is at a severe loss. Unlike the previous gross metering system in which consumer had to pay difference in units, now one needs to pay the difference in rupees. Because of this large-scale players will be at a higher loss and those who get subsidised power will be benefit more,” said K E Raghunathan, founder of Solkar Solar Industry.
Interestingly, solar net metering system was made available for LT consumers and not for large scale HT consumers. Though this aspect was included in the draft policy, it has been removed from final 2019 policy. “This will essentially limit a vibrant solar market from developing,” added Vishnu.