Seminar looks at issues and challenges in rooftop solar implementation

October 27, 2017

The Government of Tamil Nadu had issued the Solar Policy in 2012. The aim of the policy was to promote both grid-connected solar electricity and rooftop solar installations. Despite the policy, however, rooftop solar installations have not been encouraging with only 91 MW added so far. There have also been issues relating to TANGEDCO’s (Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Company) stand, the net metering scheme, the system of power credits, adequate compensation for selling power to the grid, etc.

To try and help journalists and researchers in the subject get a proper perspective on such issues relating to solar power, the Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG), a non-profit organisation that works towards protecting citizens rights in consumer and environmental issues and promoting good governance processes, and the Press Institute of India (PII), together organised a seminar titled, Tamil Nadu Solar Policy 2012 & Rooftop Solar Implementation: Issues and Challenges, at PII, on October 24.

The half-day seminar saw some interesting speeches and quite a bit of interaction. The overall impression one gauged was that despite the confusing signals and the hardships people interested in installing solar had to encounter, the situation wasn’t so bad after all and with the voices for green and clean energy and solar growing louder and many people taking the initiative to switch to solar, things were likely to get better.

Sashi Nair, director, PII-RIND, set the tone for the discussions with a broad sweep about the energy situation in Tamil Nadu, with particular reference to solar power. K. Vishnu Mohan Rao, senior researcher, CAG, took it further with his introductory remarks on issues pertaining to solar policies and rooftop solar implementation.

D. Suresh, a solar energy developer and director, Zwende, spoke about his experiences in installing a solar power plant at home. Solar Suresh, as he is popularly called, has converted his home into a self-sufficient unit, generating electricity, conserving water, using biogas and also drawing produce from a kitchen garden. He saves on electricity costs, and hikes in tariffs don’t bother him. Suresh has succeeded not only in being independent of the grid but also in generating excess power, the government has introduced a scheme called net metering. The solar power generated can be fed into the grid and credit obtained for it. This is adjusted against night consumption from the grid and translates as monetary savings for households.

Muthusamy, former director, Tariff, TNERC (Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission); Toine van Megen, Auroville Consulting; Raghunathan, managing director, Solkar Solar Industry; and S.N. Dinesh Kumar, CMD, Sootless Energy, provided valuable inputs to the discussions, showing the way forward.

T. Ramakrishnan, associate editor, The Hindu, provided the media perspective.
Bharath Jairaj, senior associate, World Resources Institute, summed up the proceedings for the benefit of all.