Karnataka solar rooftop PV regulation

RooftopElectricity markets have always witnessed a tussle between the utilities and the regulators, Karnataka state is no different. The electricity regulator has always been among the first in the country in implementing progressive policies in the Renewable Energy (RE) sector. However, the progress of all the plans has been disheartening and in most cases it is due to lack of co-operation from the utility in the state. A case in point is the solar rooftop projects, in spite of having the highest Feed-in Tariff (FiT) of ₹ 9.56/kWh in the country in 2013, there was a lack of adoption for well over a year. The reason, Distribution Companies (DISCOMs) came up with an implementation plan nearly a year after the order.

Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) has recently drafted a regulation to address the concerns of domestic residents living in apartment complexes with shared roofs and electrical connections. The proposed regulation intends to offer existing solar rooftop owners in shared roofs an option to increase their capacity and also new residents who wish to install a bigger system by aggregating the contract demand of multiple households in the building.

Proposed Regulations

The proposed regulation aims to fill all the gaps existing in the current system which hinders adoption of solar rooftop system in residential complexes. The proposed tariff at Average Pooled Power Purchase cost (APPC) which is currently at ₹ 3.97/kWh for BESCOM will raise eyebrows considering the FiT is at ₹ 7.08/kWh for domestic consumers.

Will the regulations have a positive impact?

  • The regulation is likely to have a positive impact because it removes the regulatory hurdle currently preventing residential complexes in implementing the system.
  • Residential complexes tend to install solar as a way to reduce their energy bills and hence the type of metering or tariffs wouldn’t matter much.
  • The regulation would however impact early adopters who will have to surrender their individual Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) if the complex as a whole is going for a bigger system in the common roof.

Overall, the regulation is definitely a good step but I believe there are technical challenges like metering involved in the implementation phase which only the DISCOMs can solve. I had a conversation with a regulator in KERC prior to the drafting of this regulation discussing issues related to solar rooftop in the state. He clearly admitted that at their level they can only bring in the best-fit regulation considering all stakeholders in mind but the final implementation is out of their purview. The comments to this draft regulation are open till 5th July post that there could be a revised regulation coming up.

Check the proposed regulation:Here

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‘S’ is for Sunroof

Recently Google announced the creation of the company ‘Alphabet’ of which ‘G’ is for Google. This left everyone to wonder what the other letters will stand for. Looks like we have an answer for ‘S’. Google has now launched Project Sunroof that looks to explore its mapping capability with solar irradiation database to estimate solar energy.

Is this late or is it the right time?

Solar Engineers like me will say “We have been using Google maps and Google earth in doing solar PV system design”. Yes, we have been using the Google earth imagery to estimate the roof area, orientation etc to estimate the PV capacity. In most cases we have utilised the Google earth imagery and super imposed it on AutoCad to create the preliminary land boundaries.

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Google Sketchup another google product that helps users create 3D images also allowed developers to build add ins to it. One of my favorite add ins is the Skelion. It helps put Solar PV panels on buildings and estimate energy generation. We could use sketchup, skelion and AutoCad to generate Contour maps of the land areas also.

So is this a little late? No!

I believe Google is doing this at the right time. Solar PV prices are falling and it makes economical sense to invest in PV right now. By launching this platform they will in their usual style make it ‘customer-friendly’.  You can use only Google maps to estimate solar PV on your roofs instead of the other products I mentioned before.

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What can you expect with this product?

  • Currently this is a pilot project in 3 cities in the US. It could soon spread considering the massive solar radiation database available with NREL.
  • Input your address, locate your roof and estimate the possible PV capacity.
  • Input your energy bill details and estimate the economical savings.
  • It would also allow you to get in touch with a local PV installer to visit and setup the plant for you.
  • For more info Sunroof.