Friday, June 14, 2013

Tamil Nadu Solar Policy: will it be enforced?

Tamil Nadu Solar Policy: will it be enforced?
Author(s): Jonas Hamberg
Date:Nov 22, 2012

Tamil Nadu has recently launched one of the most ambitious solar policies by any state in the country. It has mandated that all high tension consumers source six per cent of their energy usage from solar power by January 2014 through a Solar Purchase Obligation (SPO). High tension users are those that are connected directly to a high tension line with a voltage of over 33,000 volts or 33 kV. This includes large industries, special economic zones, colleges, residential schools and buildings with a built-up area of over 20,000 square metres. Domestic users, agriculture and other low tension consumers would be excluded from the SPO.

The six per cent SPO will help the state harness 3,000 MW of total solar power by 2015. The stated reason for the solar policy is to increase supply of electricity in the state as coal reserves are dwindling and becoming increasingly expensive. The policy notes that conventional power is not able to keep up with increasing electricity demand. Tamil Nadu already has the highest wind-power capacity among Indian states and the policy reasons that the production curve of solar, which is more predictable than wind, can help stabilise the grid. While wind-power performs best in monsoon season when wind-speeds are high, solar performs best in non-monsoon season when solar insolation is high. Solar potential is also more evenly spread over the state.

The policy further argues that solar plants near the consumer (on rooftop or on the site) would drastically reduce transmission and distribution losses and solar power is the cleanest way to produce electricity, along with wind-power.

According to Mohit Anand, senior consultant at Bridge to India, a solar power consultancy based in India, "The reason to put the obligation on high tension consumers is that they are already paying high electricity tariffs and have the ability to pay for solar. It would be economically unviable for the domestic or agriculture low tension consumers who pay lower rates to use solar power. Putting the requirement directly on them (low tension consumers) would make little sense as there is no infrastructure for enforcing a solar requirement for each and every household in Tamil Nadu."

Mechanisms for reaching the 3,000 MW goal of the Tamil Nadu solar policy
Utility scale (MW)Solar rooftopsRenewable energy certificatesTotal
Source: Tamil Nadu Solar Policy 2012

Basic machinery missing 

But not everyone is in awe of the policy. “Tamil Nadu has put out this policy which is very ambitious, 3,000 MW in three years, but it is also very vague. There doesn't seem to have gone that much thought into the process. Andhra, Kerala and other states have done the same; they want solar but aren't specific on details," says Ashwin Gambhir, senior research associate at Prayas Energy Group in Pune, a non-governmental energy think-tank.

Moreover, enforcement of SPO is so far undecided. According to sources in the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC), the commission in charge of regulating tariffs and enforcement as per the policy, “the commission is in discussions with TEDA (Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency) regarding enforcement of the SPOs. The feed-in-tariffs are also under consideration for grid connected projects." The commission sources have declined to give a deadline on the regulations or to give any details of how enforcement will be done but state that "they will be out in time".

Comment by Anumakonda Jagadeesh

Very good post.

Yes. Tamil Nadu can achieve the target. Already Tamil Nadu is the leader in Wind Energy in the country.

Indian State Wise Wind Installed Capacity as of 31.02.2013

Sl. No | State Capacity in MW

1 Tamil Nadu 7154
2 Gujarat 3093
3 Maharashtra 2976
4 Rajasthan 2355
5 Karnataka 2113
6 Madhya Pradesh 386
7 Andhra Pradesh 435
8 Kerala 35
9 Others 4

Total 18551

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