Indian state of Tamil Nadu lowers solar roadmap target

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Power regulators at India’s Tamil Nadu State Electricity Regulatory Commission have unveiled a tweaked solar power roadmap that shifts the onus for hitting solar use targets from large energy consumers on to the state utility.

The state of Tamil Nadu had originally set a 3 GW PV installation target by 2015, which insisted that big power consumers in the state met 6% of their energy requirements through solar power by the end of 2014. Furthermore, commercial customers were also required to meet 9% of their energy requirements through renewable means by the end of the year – part of a pre-agreed renewable energy purchase obligation (RPO).

However, after being challenged by the Tamil Nadu Spinning Mills Association and Tamil Nadu Electricity Consumers’ Association, the state’s regulatory commission has introduced two key changes to the ruling: placing the onus for the targets instead on Tangedco (the state’s utility company), and requiring 2% solar from 11% renewable energy for both this year and 2015-16.

"The current amendment clears the legal hurdle for solar," said the founder and director at consultancy firm RESolve Energy Consultants, Madhavan Nampoothiri. "This will also pave the way for the 1,000 MW solar tender, which has been pending for over a year."

Bids for constructing solar plants in the state have already been invited by the Tami Nadu government, up to a capacity of 1,000 MW. No power purchase agreements have yet been signed, but more than 50 solar developers have agreed in principle to carry out 700 MW of PV installations this year.

The president of local solar company Sterling & Wilson, Bikesh Ogra, also welcomed the decision to amend the current target objectives. "This move depicts a rare but laudable step taken by a particular state government towards enforcement of RPO on its distribution licensee and we only hope other states would want to emulate this," Ogra said.

"Overall, this move is expected to benefit both the consumers and the solar industry in the long term."