Goa for sure is trailing in the generation of solar power, but the recent announcement of the solar power policy has boosted industry and suppliers of solar systems in a big way, finds out Shoma Patnaik
After several states have robust solar power policies in place and following huge strides made by them in the substitution of fossil fuel energy with solar energy, Goa finally firmed up its solar power policy on December 6, 2017.
It is a policy that has been in making since 2013-14. Several outlines of the policy were drawn up over the years. The proposed policy went through number of revisions and re-revisions before a draft was announced in May 2017 and the final document ready only recently.
As per the policy, the state has to increase the share of renewable energy in the energy-mix to achieve overall energy security and also to meet the Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) set by the Joint Electricity Regulation Commission (JERC). According to the obligation, the target is 150 MW of solar power by 2022.
It is a difficult target since Goa is woefully inadequate in solar energy. In fact, there is no documented proof of the capacity on hand. But informal check reveals that average capacities are small and consumers of solar power are a handful. Domestic consumers comprise a major chunk of the market while, commercial users are the hotels and one or two industrial units with a tiny solar plants.
The suppliers of solar power are not large either. They are small players, mostly of appliances such as solar cookers, lanterns, heaters, etc. There are no big EPC contractors in the market who provide decent sized plants although there are five to six local companies who set up solar systems for non-domestic users.
Recently the Governor’s residence, viz. the Raj Bhavan, Dona Paula, commissioned a 30kw, on-grid, solar plant. The plant is successful and meeting part of the electricity requirements of the palatial establishment. The Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) has also commissioned a 200 kw plant set up at a cost of around Rs four crore. The plant is off-grid at the moment but the process is on to get it connected to the grid.
In the future, the ONGC has a one MW solar plant coming up at Betul and there are talks of the Military of setting up a plant.
The good thing about the announcement of the state solar policy is that it is expected to give the solar sector a boost. The government is keen to set up generation plants in different slabs, ranging from capacity 50 MW to one MW. The tendering process will be through open bidding. It is likely to get the large EPC contractors in the fray and energize the sector considerably.
According to, Ketan Kenkre, director, operations, Sanaya Energy, a Margao based company that specialises in setting up solar facilities, “Goa is suitable for rooftop systems and also ground-mounted solar plants.” He says that, the local market so far has been driven by domestic users but in future the demand will be from commercial and industrial consumers who can afford qualitative, large solar facilities.
Kenkre, reveals that he is flooded by enquiries from units owners in Verna, Kundaim and Pilerne industrial estate who want to set up solar plants for own use as well as supply to the state grid.
Shivanad Shirodkar, founder, Sai Solar, Fatorda, is also bullish of the solar sector looking up. He says that, he has several industrial clients who want to invest in solar projects. “The clarity provided by the policy will lead to local units investing in solar plants,” he says.
According to Shirodkar, “Goa cannot take in large solar plants due to space constraints but it can easily have rooftop systems which is a viable option these days thanks to the fall in the cost of installations. He says that, rooftop systems are ideal for schools, hospitals, government buildings and institutions as they have uniform roofing and are high-tension consumers.
Experts in the solar sector point out that, there are two type of solar systems currently in the market- the grid-type system which is meant for supplying excess power to the state and the battery-operated system that is twice as costly and rapidly losing appeal. Experts also point to better dissemination of information on the benefits of solar power to the average resident.
Check reveals that, alhough the general residents is very much aware of necessity of clean energy, the lack of guidance on suitable systems for home is an obstacle. The local market currently has several brands of solar lamps, heaters, etc. The brands do not offer any after sales service which is discourages users from purchasing the appliances.
Goa’s solar power policy to fetch results by March 2018
According to the government, it will take next two-three months to have proper documentation for the policy and by the end of financial year 2-017-18 the policy will become functional and will start showing results. The policy as such is divided into three categories- which includes even a unit producing up to 100 KV power. The policy is divided into two categories – prosumer and producer – for generating solar power. The prosumer is categorized into two types namely small and large. The small prosumer is a person already having an LT connection i.e. connected load upto 100 KW which includes residential, commercial, institutional or industrial consumers and they are allowed to go for gross metering upto 100 KW or the connected load, whichever is lower. They are allowed to go for gross metering upto 100 KW or the connected load.
The large prosumer having an HT connection will be allowed to go for net metering only and the solar power plant can be installed on rooftop or ground based within the same premises.
The producer is an entity to set up a solar power plant with a capacity of more than 100 KW exclusively for sale to the distribution licensee under gross metering as per tariff discovered by reverse bidding and the electricity department will enter into a power purchase agreement (PPA) with all intending producers subject to availability of infrastructure for evacuation of power.
The policy, elaborates on the recovery of interest free loan, which will be given for setting up of Solar Power Plant, will be made from payment to be made to generator for every kilowatts supplied to the grid and it will be at Rs 4 per KW or Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission feed-in tariff rate, which is less.
The Solar Power Policy, which will remain in operation up to seven years, also proposes to provide the subsidy of 30 percent of capital cost for the standalone power plant (Off-grid system upto 100KW) which will be released by way of one repress for every unit of power generate and will be paid once in six months. Besides it also provides for solar power producers to be selected through reverse bidding on the basis of the maximum discount offered on the levelised tarrif fixex by JERC.