Hoping to lure residents to opt for solar power by offering monetary benefits, the state government is set to buy power at the rate of Rs 3.50 per unit from domestic consumers who install solar units at their residences and generate power more than their individual requirement. Hit hard by severe power shortage, the state government is mulling a policy that would allow individual consumers to sell their excess solar power to the state power grid. The cabinet sub-committee headed by finance minister Anam Ramnarayan Reddy has almost finalised the rate at which excess power generated at rooftops, terraces and balconies of individuals’ houses, apartments and commercial complexes would be bought. “It would be around Rs 3.50 per unit. We will submit a report to chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy in a week’s time,” a minister, who is a member of the sub-committee, told TOI.
The current power crisis has opened a window of opportunity to encourage more people to reduce dependency on the state power grid. The use of solar hybrid rooftop applications is growing rapidly throughout the country. Rooftop Photovoltaic systems offer a great opportunity to institutions, industries, and all other buildings already using UPS, inverters, batteries and diesel generators to reduce energy costs and to ensure power continuity in the event of a severe power shortage. However, the cost of going solar with a system that would power most of the domestic appliances including lights, fans, televisions and computers is beyond the reach of the average middle class household. The solar power generation system developers are quoting prices between Rs 1.6 lakh and Rs 1.8 lakh for a 1 KW (kilowatt) domestic rooftop solar power system. However, the state wants to step in with subsidies.
“We are hopeful of the prices becoming more affordable as the Centre has already promised 30% subsidy on 1 KW system and the state government is willing to chip in with another 20% subsidy. Thus, in effect, the total subsidy would be 50%,” said sources in the government. Once the 50% subsidy becomes a reality, the state government is confident that the overall solar power consumption would register a major upward jump. Taking its cue from Kerala, which had last year targeted to move 10,000 households to solar power with each household accounting for a 1 KW rooftop power system, the state government is planning to encourage at least 20,000 households and 5,000 commercial complexes to go for solar power systems this year alone.
At the same time, the growth of the solar industry has given rise to sub-standard products with some companies buying low grade broken cells in bulk at throwaway prices from China and offering them to customers in India. To prevent the eager consumer from getting duped, the state would have to ensure that there is a quality control and check on solar products that are being sold, cautioned experts.