Is mandatory rooftop solar the key to rapid deployment? Chandigarh to take the test.

The Chandigarh Renewable Energy Science and Technology Promotion Society (CREST) is likely to issue a notification making rooftop solar mandatory in the union territory.  If that happens, Chandigarh would follow the neighboring state Haryana and become the second region in the country to make rooftop solar compulsory.

  •  The mandate targets commercial, government and residential buildings with a plot size larger than 100 square yards (83 m2);
  • Given the low grid tariff in Chandigarh, getting building owners to adopt rooftop solar will be challenging;
  • A robust information and support mechanism from the government is crucial for successful implementation of this policy

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has fixed Chandigarh’s solar target capacity of 2,171 MW by 2022 to meet its Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO). So far, Chandigarh has a total installed solar capacity of 5 MW, most of which are rooftop solar projects installed on government buildings.

The table given below shows the proposed minimum project sizes to be installed according to the plot size of the building:

Plot Size (in sq yards) Rooftop solar system size
0-100 0
100 to 500 1 kWp or 100 litre solar heating system
500 to 1,000 1kWp
1,000-3,000 2 kWp
More than 3,000 3 kWp

In September 2014, Haryana introduced a similar mandate requiring buildings to install rooftop solar by September 2015. As an industrial/commercial building owner in Haryana, rooftop solar makes sense economically because grid tariffs are between INR 8.50-10.00/ kWh. However, the state has a total of 17 MW of installed rooftop solar capacity. This is nowhere close to the target the policy had initially envisaged. The reasons for this could be unavailability of net metering connections and/or lack of information available to consumers about how to comply with the regulation.

The challenge with Chandigarh with regard to rapid adoption of rooftop solar will be even more acute as local grid tariffs are significantly lower at INR 6.00-6.50 for commercial and industrial consumers. CREST/government would need to take several steps in order to make this a successful campaign:

  • The government needs to enable operational net metering guidelines. Timelines and processes should be defined for the implementation of net metering connection
  • The local utility needs to build a sufficient capacity (systems and trained staff) for new interconnections
  •  A strong public education and communication campaign would be needed to educate rooftop owners and provide them with information on benefits of rooftop solar and the options for implementation.
  • A strict mechanism for enforcement would be needed to ensure that adoption is in line with the policy

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