MNRE invites solar policy comments


India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is inviting comments on its Draft Solar Policy, which was published on the web today.

The ten-page document, available here, outlines some of the government department’s thinking. However, sections of it are blank and very little relevant or concrete information can be gleaned. It gives no proposed start or end date, no minimum targets for implementation of solar over the next five years, and any hint of prices to be paid for electricity generated. Currently, the proposition is titled ‘Solar Policy, 201x‘. References are made throughout to finding suitable approaches and models but with no fine detail as to how or when this will be achieved.

However, the document does provide a tantalizing hint that feed-in-tariffs could be applied. The author of the proposals writes, “The State shall promote implementation of solar power plant and sale of electricity generated to a Person other than the Distribution Licensee. The Nodal Agency shall extend its support for implementation of solar power plants under this segment. The Electricity Regulatory Commission shall announce suitable provisions for the development of the plants under this category.”

The Draft Solar Policy also hints at heavy government investment in the areas of decentralized and off-grid solar applications to meet guidelines set out by MNRE. Firstly, the Nodal Agencz will look to identify priority areas for off-grid and decentralized deploymnt. Then, the draft policy states, “The Nodal Agency shall take necessary action to proliferate its application in feasible sectors including residential (solar water heaters, solar cookers, indoor air heating etc.), commercial & industrial sector (solar cooling, solar air dryers, large scale solar water heaters, large scale solar cooking utilizing solar concentrator technology, process heating etc.).”

The inviting of comments on the Draft Solar Policy comes just under two months after the MNRE launched guidance on the bidding processes for Phase II, Batch II, Tranche I of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) auction. That auction relates to 3 GW of capacity, with bidders to place bids ranging from 10 MW to 300 MW. The government further underlined its commitment to solar recently by announcing a target of 40,000 MW of grid-interactive rooftop solar plants over the next five years. Those plants will be set up in residential, commercial, industrial and institutional sectors around the country, with capacities ranging from 1 KW to 500 KW, and will receive a 15 per cent subsidy from the government.

Those seeking to comment on the Draft Solar Policy have until 1 March to do so, and should send their comments by email to Dr. Arun K. Tripathi, director of MNRE.