Harness power of the sun. This is what the government wants from people. The government of Maharashtra has urged them to set up solar panels on terraces and roofs of housing societies. There is a policy in place and incentives are being offered, but the response has been poor.
Covid-19 pandemic has further affected the plans of having solar panels installed on rooftops of housing societies especially in a city like Mumbai. The power experts claim that one of the basic reasons for the hindrance is the nonavailability of space.
"During the lockdown, the terrace of most of the residential buildings and highrises became walking space and was used for recreation. There is no guarantee on how long will Covid waves continue. If solar panels are installed then that walking space gets occupied. A 1 kilowatt rooftop solar plant requires about 10 square meter area," said a power expert.
The net metering rooftop solar energy scheme has been there for at least 3 years. Moreover, earlier this week, the power companies announced that the housing societies are eligible to get anywhere between 20-40 per cent subsidy on total cost. These societies can also avail central financial assistance from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
The reason behind this subsidy is little response for rooftop solar panels from residential societies. For instance Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking has stated that they do not have any residential consumer or housing societies using rooftop solar panels and there are few commercial setups making use of the scheme.
"Until now this scheme meant for residential societies was not overseen by BEST. It is only now that we are sending messages to consumers urging them to install rooftop solar panels," said a BEST official.
The BEST is sending messages to consumers stating, "The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), GOI, introduced Phase II Rooftop Solar scheme for providing Financial Assistance for installation of Rooftop Solar panels for residential consumers. For more details, kindly visit our website www.bestundertaking.com'.
Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited (AEML) has received better response with 950 consumers who have undertaken rooftop solar panels. As a part of AEML's 'Switch To Green' program, the per kWp project cost for rooftop solar PV system installation ranges from Rs 34,000 to Rs 46,000 depending on the plant capacity opted by the customer.
"Residential customers who opt for capacity upto 3 kWp will get 40 per cent subsidy, while those who opt between 3 kWp and up to 10 kWp will get 20 per cent subsidy and group housing societies for common facilities up to 500 kWp (@ 0 kWp per house) will get 20 per cent subsidy on the project cost. The cost is inclusive of GST and other related costs like design, supply, installation, testing and commissioning and comprehensive maintenance for 5 years," read AEML statement.
When Tata Power, which also supplies electricity to Mumbai, was approached for their views on this scheme, their spokesperson said that TPC would not be able to comment.
Overall, the solar PV system has a life of close to 25 years once installed. Due to subsidy benefit under the programme, customers will be able to recover costs within 2-3 years. Sources said that an 11.05 kWp capacity system can mitigate 339 tonnes of CO2 during the entire lifespan of the system, and is equivalent to planting 548 full grown trees over the lifetime.