Solar PV technology for generating electricity from solar energy. Solar has been in India since quite some time now, but for a long time, it was not economically feasible for most Indians to take benefits of. But due to a drop in the prices of solar PV in the last few years coupled with significant policy-level implementations by Government of India, now, Solar PV technology looks quite lucrative. Who would not want to use solar energy, a free renewable resource readily available at their disposal, to effectively reduce their electricity bills and increase green footprint! With this post, we at Ushva would try to make you aware of the procedure in a step-bystep manner to implement Solar PV system for your house, office or any commercial complex.
What brought in the big change?
There are two ways of implementing Solar PV: “Grid Connected” and “Off Grid”. In an “Off Grid” system, your PV system is completely independent and is disconnected from your electricity supply (or your electricity distribution company), but in a “Grid Connected” system, your PV system is connected to your electricity supply (or your electricity distribution company).
The main difference between the two is
storage . In an “Off Grid” system, you need batteries to store electricity. But in a “Grid Connected” system, you do not need
batteries as whatever electricity is produced through the system, it can be sold to your electricity distribution company (or electricity-supply company). Batteries are a big cost component in the “Off Grid” system which makes the latter expensive. And not just expensive, but inefficient as well (because batteries inherently loose electricity/energy). Now, you might wonder – why would your electricity distribution company (a company that makes money by selling you electricity) want to buy electricity from you? Well, this is where the government comes in and the policy introduced by the government helps. India has severe electricity shortage in several parts of the country. We need electricity not only to cover the shortage, but also for a number of other infrastructural requirements. Sunlight is a free resource, and fortunately, it’s plentiful in our country.
Thus, to make good use of the free resource, i.e. solar energy, the Government has started implementing policies which allow each and every individual house or building that has plenty of open space to become a producer of electricity. So, it’s due to the Government’s mandate that your electricity distribution company has to buy electricity produced by your own system.
Because of such policy implementations, you can now have “Grid Connected” Solar PV systems that are quite economical (no battery costs).
How does the new policy work?
In every discussion related to “Grid Connected” Solar PV system, you shall hear a lot of these two terms: “Net-Metering” or “Gross Metering”. Let’s take look at both of these:
Net-Metering: In this system, you have a single new bi-directional meter. When you consume electricity from the grid (or your electricity supply), the meter readings will move forward; but, when you produce electricity and send it to the grid, the meter readings shall move backward. Suppose you use 10 units of electricity in a day and
produce 8 units, your meter will show a reading of 2 units. And if you use 10 units of electricity and produce 12 units, then your meter will show -2 units. Your bill at the end of month will be based on net units consumed/produced. If you generate extra electricity in any month, the surplus is carried over to the next month and netted. At the end of a year, if your total production is more that what you consumed, then you will get paid for the next surplus electricity produced at the cost decided by your state’s electricity regulatory commission.
Gross-Metering: In this system, there are two meters: one measures your electricity consumption and the other measures your electricity production. Consequently, you get two different bills: one for consumption and other for production. There is no change in the way your consumption is billed (as it happens today), but you get paid separately for the electricity you produce. Again, the cost of electricity that you are paid is decided by the states electricity regulatory commission.
How do the two differ?
If you look at the way electricity is, the price of electricity is lower when consumption is less and it is higher when the consumption is more. When you net your consumption, you don’t get a fixed cost for your electricity production. The price that you get varies; based on your consumption/production, whereas in case of Gross Metering, you get a fixed price for all the electricity you produce.
Is Grid Connected System good for everyone?
Although the policy is now available in most states in India, but if you reside in a location which experiences a lot of power cuts, then a “Grid Connected” system is NOT good for you. The reason is – when you have a “Grid Connected” system, you have to put all the electricity that you produce onto the grid. But, during power cuts, you essentially get is connected from the grid, which is why your system should
NOT put electricity on the grid. On such occasions, you need a battery backup to store the electricity that you generate.
Before implementing a solution, you need to assess your power cuts and accordingly decide if putting a “Grid Connected” system works for you or not. Because if power cuts are long and frequent, you would either waste electricity or you would have to figure out a way to store it in batteries.
How do you size the Solar PV system?
Now that you have figured out whether your state has a Net-Metering or Gross Metering policy, the next thing is to figure out the size of the Solar PV system that you can put. One of the biggest challenges with an “Off Grid” system is that your appliances are connected to the solar PV system. So, you have to figure out your appliances wattages, daily usage etc. to calculate the right size of your Solar PV system. This entire calculation can be somewhat complex and confusing.
With a “Grid Connected” system, the calculation is extremely simple. You just have to take your electricity bill and look up the value called: “Sanctioned Load” or “Connected Load”. Depending on your state’s policy, you can install a system equivalent to 100% to 150% of the connected load value that you have on your bill. So, for instance, if your connected load is 10 kW, then in some places you can install a maximum of 10 kW solar PV systems whereas in other places you can install up to 15 kW. But, in no case can you exceed 150% of the connected load for a “Grid Connected” system.
Shadow Analysis: The next challenge that you have to tackle is: shadow analysis. To get the optimum output from a Solar PV system, you need to ensure that you have enough shadow-free area that can hold the system. Typically (based on current
levels of efficiency of solar panels), you need a shadow-free area of 90-100 sq ft to install 1 kW of Solar Panels .
You have to make sure that:
1. There is no external body (like buildings, trees) that casts shadow on panels during the day.
2. Panels are placed in such a way that they get maximum sunshine throughout the day at the right angles.
Shadow Analysis can help you calculate the rooftop area that can be utilized and based on that (using 90-100 sq ft per 1 kWp) you can calculate the maximum size solar PV system that you can install. As mentioned earlier, you cannot exceed more than 100%-150% (depending on state) of the sanctioned load. There are software available that can be used to do this analysis too (they can predict shadows depending on seasons and location).
Can your roof hold the panels?
Typically solar panels are quite light, but once you have decided the place to install solar PV, you need to make sure that the roof should be able to handle the solar PV system. If you have asbestos sheets that are old, you may want to change them with tin sheets that are long-lasting. Your roof should be sturdy enough to hold the panels. If your roof is quite high and there is a lot of wind, you need to understand the setup with your installer to make sure that the installation is safe enough.
How to get Subsidies on Solar PV Rooftop?
As per the MNRE , CFA (Central Finance Assistance) notice ,subsidy is available for Solar Rooftop PV implementations. The CFA is 30% of the benchmark cost for general category states/UTs and 70% of the benchmark cost for North Eastern states
including Sikkim, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The benchmark cost and CFA levels are revised by MNRE periodically.
The present benchmark costs as fixed by MNRE are – Rs 100/Wp for projects upto 100 kWp and Rs 90/Wp for projects between 100 kWp – 500 kWp. Please note, this scheme is currently available only upto 500 kWp projects. The subsidy is available only to these categories:
Residential: All types of residential buildings.
Institutional: Schools, health institutions including medical colleges and hospitals, educational institutes (both public and private), R&D institutions, etc.
Government Buildings: Both Central and State Government Buildings.
Social Sector: Community Center, Welfare homes, old age homes, orphanages, etc.
How do you apply for Subsidy? The process of application for subsidy is quite straightforward. First thing you need to do is contact your State Nodal Agency. MNRE has set up a Nodal Agency (or Energy Development Agency) in every state, for instance, in Maharashtra, it is MEDA (Maharashtra Energy Development Agency), in Andhra Pradesh it is NEDCAP (Non-Conventional Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh (NEDCAP) Ltd.). The list of all State Nodal Agencies and their contact address/phone/website is available on this link on MNRE website: http://mnre.gov.in/related-links/contact-us/state-nodel-agencies/
To get subsidy, you have to apply for it with State Nodal Agency with all the relevant details about the project. The details include all technical and financial aspects of the project. You must take help from your system integrator to fill in all the details (you will get all the technical data about panels, inverters, etc). Once you fill in appropriate details, you need to put in an application with the State Nodal Agency. The agency will evaluate the proposals and estimate the level of subsidy that can be provided to a project. After nodal agency evaluation, the project is forwarded to MNRE for final consideration and approval.
Note: If you are planning to get a subsidy, your project should not start execution till there is approval from nodal agency. But then you should also not wait for the final subsidy to be disbursed as it can take quite a lot of time. So your project execution starts after nodal agency approval and before MNRE makes final decision.
Few Important Points regarding Subsidy
There are a few important points that one should be aware of before thinking about subsidy:
Although the CFA is stated as 30%, it keeps changing and for individual projects, the level of CFA is determined by State Nodal Agency and approved by MNRE. So it may not be 30% in reality.
There is a long queue for getting subsidy in almost every state. In fact in many states not even a single penny of subsidy has been disbursed for quite some time. MNRE specifically states that people should not wait for subsidy before implementing a project as you never know how long it will take.
Also as there is a long queue, MNRE uses a priority list to make final approval. All social sector projects, government projects and institutional projects may take priority over a project from a rich and affluent upper middle class residential society.
As mentioned earlier, your panels have to be Made in India to get subsidy. You may compromise a bit on efficiency in such a case. You have to determine if taking a subsidy or getting more output works for you.
How about Private, Commercial and Industrial Buildings?
If you have a private, commercial or industrial building and you want to set up a solar PV rooftop system, then you are not eligible for Subsidy. But, you are eligible for Accelerated Depreciation Benefits. The accelerated depreciation available currently is 40% in a year .
In general, for any industry, typically 15% depreciation can be claimed for any capital expense (like plants and machinery), which means if you make capital investment in any year, you can claim 15% depreciation in value to claim tax benefit. However, in case of Solar PV rooftop, the same is 40% in a year.
What is the maintenance required for such a system?
As batteries are eliminated, the maintenance required for such a system is quite less. The chief maintenance activity would be to clean the solar panels regularly so that dust does not accumulate on them. The other electrical components may have some wear and tear and would need fixes. To give a rough idea, maintenance cost is typically assumed to be 0.5% anually. In general, it is recommended to go for high quality components so that you just fit and forget the system and it keeps generating electricity for you.
Do I need approvals from my electricity distribution company?
You certainly need to take approvals from your electricity distribution company. This is because they are the ones who shall purchase electricity generated by your system. Before you start your project, you have to submit a form with your electricity distribution company (which can be done either online or offline). In the form, you will have to list out all the technical details of your PV project, along with your
electricity bills and other relevant documents. The electricity distribution company will also do their feasibility study before you go ahead and install the system.
Once the system is installed, the electricity distribution company will sign an agreement with you which is called a “Power Purchase Agreement” or PPA. This agreement will lay out the terms and conditions at which the electricity distribution company will purchase electricity from you. This should be in line with the terms setup by the State Electricity Regulatory Commission and will lay down the terms of purchase. Once everything is set up (from the system’s perspective) and the PPAs are signed, your electricity distribution company will install the “Net Meter” in your premise. Please note that your old meter may give way to this new meter (if you have a net-metering arrangement). Your system will start functioning once everything is set and connected.
The option of Solar PV Rooftop “Grid Connected” system looks quite lucrative for places with fairly regular and continuous supply of electricity. A majority of such places in the country are cities with higher tariffs and reliable electricity supply. It can be a great method to not only reduces electricity bills, but also the generated power can be routed to places which have a shortage of electricity. If you do have one such place in mind where you can install the system, give a try to solar PV rooftop “Grid Connected” system along with
Ushva (www.ushva.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | +917738986783)
Area: 10*10 Sq.ft per KVA (Shadow free)
Units Produced: 5 units per KVA per day (150 monthly). System Warranty:
BOS Warranty: 2 years
Solar Inverter: Manufacturer warranty (generally 5 years)
Solar Panels: Manufacturer warranty (efficiency warranty of 25 years)
Working Life of the system:
Works with 90% efficiency for the 1st 10 years and after 10 years with an efficiency of 80% minimum for another 15 years.in all an average of 25 years. Important Point to Note:
Scientifically it’s been found your Properties value gets increased after Installation of Solar PV.
As an Investment option Solar provide 16-24% ROI without any risk included in it (i.e it works as Insurance for you along with saving with a proper channel) also Prices of conventional fossil fuel is sure to increase as they are depleting that makes solar most lucrative option.
No Inspection and Commission Charges.
High Quality and Costumer Satisfactory Product from designing to installation to after support with more emphasis on awareness of Renewable Energy and eventually become the choice of the customer.
We know you liked the concept and are interested to install a Solar PV System. We at Ushva are just a call away to hear your quires and happy to answer them as per your convenience.
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