India implements new 40 GW rooftop, small PV plant program

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India has unveiled a new grid-connected rooftop and small solar power plant program with the aim of installing up to 40 GW of grid interactive rooftop solar (RTS) PV plants by 2022.

The new program follows recent news that India’s total installed PV capacity had surpassed the 7 GW mark.

India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) said Thursday that as part of its new rooftop and small PV plant initiative, RTS plants would be set up in residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, government and state-owned enterprise sector ranging from 1 kW to 500 kW capacity.

Until now, 26 of India’s 36 states and territories have net/gross metering regulations. In addition, the government offers a 30% subsidy scheme for RTS projects in residential, social and institutional sectors and a 15 to 25% incentive for projects in the government and state-owned enterprise (public sector undertaking, or PSU) sector. Accordingly, the MNRE-run Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) is processing tenders for 500 MW and 1 GW, respectively.

However, India currently offers no government subsidies or incentives for RTS projects in the industrial and commercial sectors. As a result, the MNRW is counting on the participation of the private sector through channel partners, which it sees as “crucial.”

“Channel partners are expected to participate and liaise with units in industrial and commercial sectors to take up RTS projects where consumption is more than RTS generation,” the MNRE said.

The MNRW recently published a report detailing the country’s total installed solar PV capacity, which reached 6,998.853 MW by April 30. India has since surpassed that figure with a number of large projects that have been commissioned.

The country recently inaugurated an 11.5 MW single rooftop solar PV installation – reportedly the largest in the world – at the Dera Baba Jaimal Singh campus – a spiritual and learning organization often referred to as RSSB (Rahda Soami Satsang Beas). The entire array has a capacity of 19.5 MW, with 8 MW of PV spread across other buildings on site.

While India’s solar market has been dominated by large utility-scale projects to date, the nation’s rooftop sector is getting another major boost from the World Bank. Earlier this month the World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) approved a $625 million, 20-year loan to fund rooftop solar PV across the country.

The bank has also approved a 40-year co-financing loan of $120 million and a $5 million grant from Climate Investment Fund’s (CIF) Clean Technology Fund.