As regular readers of Panchabuta might know, we believe that the offgrid solar potential is far higher than the utility-scale grid connected solar that garners a lot of attention in the media because of the size and scale of the individual projects. This also provides for a lot of entrepreneurial opportunities in the solar space.
Solar lantern has been one of the key leaders in the off-grid space. Startups like Simpa Networks are working on individual home lighting solutions on a pay and use model.
This has been followed by solar street lighting , village lighting and rural electrification solutions sponsored by the various state nodal agencies under various schemes by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
According to reports , “Solar energy projects are being taken up aggressively in Uttar Pradesh with active cooperation of all the stakeholders, including National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard), commercial banks, regional rural banks and state agencies,” said A Raza, director in the ministry.
According to the report, the solar energy projects pertain to the setting up of small power plants, solar lighting systems at police stations, educational institutions, hospitals, hotels and nursing homes. Solar energy projects had been undertaken in 2,000 Ambedkar villages across 46 districts, mainly for street lighting. Besides, 100 telecom towers in the state are being equipped with solar energy panels.
The Centre provides capital subsidy up to 30 per cent and credit support for these projects under Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). While the re-finance institutions get funds from the government at two per cent interest, the retail end-users get soft credit at five per cent.
Meanwhile, the lending for solar energy installations could be categorised as priority sector lending by the country’s Central bank. Nabard had already applied to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in this regard.
“We are hopeful that the RBI would accept our demand and soon a notification could be issued to the banks,” Nabard Chief General Manager (UP) D P Mishra said, according to the report.
Panchabuta has also talked about the potential of offgrid solar in the telecom space.This is a huge opportunity and in discussion with some of the senior technical experts from the tower companies is given to understand that the telecom industry is looking for complete hybrid solutions that can match the expectations of the telecom tower infrastructure players and their availability and service levels.
Further the energy costs is about 8% of the revenue generated for most operators and power and fuel contributes to about 25% of the total network cost.
They are also looking to the cleantech industry not just to provide Solar panel solutions but provide complete solutions. Most tower companies are looking at the ‘outsourced’ kind of model above where they are looking at a OPEX fee model from generated savings to create a win-win solution and help promote green and cleantech companies.
This model can easily be replicated in the Railways and Defence sectors in specific applications.