According to reports, when all else on the solar front in Tamil Nadu has run aground, residential rooftop solar schemes are looking up. In just a few weeks after the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA) called for applications from residents who wish to set up solar rooftop systems, about 1,050 applications have been received.
Against the backdrop of the state’s grand plans to set up large scale solar plans hitting legal hurdles, this success comes as a flicker of hope.
Under the scheme, the government announced that the first 10,000 consumers in the state who set up 1 kilowatt (kW) systems will get a subsidy of 20,000 from the state government in addition to the Central government subsidy of 30,000. A 1kW rooftop solar power system costs between 80,000 and 1.2 lakh, based on the quality of the solar panels.Industry analysts say the level of response is encouraging, considering the level of knowledge of the scheme is not very high, and that the scheme would take off well.
“With the subsidies from the state and the Centre, this works out roughly to 50,000 per kilowatt, and would make economic sense for people who are in the middle or higher slab of the domestic tariffs charged by Tangecdco,” said Toine van Megen, co-founder of Auroville Consulting, which carried out pilot projects in the state to demonstrate the workability of small scale (rooftop) grid-connected solar PV systems with net-metering.
A net meter is a bi-directional meter which measures how much of the grid-power the consumer uses, and how much his system pumps into the grid.
“It makes economic sense now because with the fixed capital cost, the consumer has a clear return-on-investment and would break-even in about five years,” Vineeth Vijayaraghavan, director -research, Solarillion Foundation said.
If a system would generate on an average five units a day or 1,500 units a year, a consumer who pays an average of 5.50 per unit of power to Tangedco, would save roughly 9,000 a year on electricity bills.
The only risk with most rooftop solar systems is that collecting the subsidy amount from the government could be a long-drawn process, but that is taken care of here. “The scheme is designed such that collection subsidies from the state or central government rests with solar power companies and the consumer gets a system hassle-free,” says Vijayaraghavan.