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    Solarization of the UT of J&K – PM’s Surya Ghar Muft Bijli Yojna

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    Wore many hats, with several prestigious assignments

    By Chander mohan Sharma

    Energy is the bedrock on which rests every activity of human endeavour & development be it technological, social, cultural, industrial or educational.

    The ongoing wars between Ukraine & Russia & those in the Middle East have once again brought to the fore the fact that must strive to become self-reliant, to the extent possible, to meet its ever-growing energy needs. Too much dependence on imported fossil fuels, be it oil or coal, not only puts the energy security of the country at risk, but these fuels also result in environmental degradation with consequential survival risks for every living species on this planet. Unfortunately, India has to depend on imported fossil fuels to meet its energy requirements as these resources are not sufficiently available within the country to meet the energy needs of the nation.

    However, India is lucky in as far as benevolence of “Surya Devta” is concerned & the present-day technologies have ensured that this benevolence can be optimally utilized for sustainable development of the country. Future strides in technology will incrementally improve the efficiency of the equipment required for generation of solar power.

    It is because of the facts mentioned above that India embarked on development of solar energy in the country. It is worth noting that the total installed solar power capacity in the country in 2014 was 2632 MW, while today it is around 82,657 MW. This is around 75% of the total renewable energy capacity of 144,751 MW installed in the country. Given the fact that the maximum demand for electricity has already touched around 250 GW in the country this summer the role of solar power has become all the more important.

    Unfortunately, we have lagged behind in J&K in this area & have not been able to take advantage of the trends in the rest of the country. However, an opportunity is knocking on our door once again & we as a society must try to take full advantage of it. Some of the states that have done exceptionally well in RTS category are Gujarat (3460 MW), Maharashtra (2070 MW), Rajasthan (1150 MW), Kerala (670 MW) & Tamil Nadu (600 MW). We in J&K stand at around 50 MW, as of now.

    In an effort to increase the solar generation capacity in the country & making the consumers stakeholders in power generation a new scheme was launched in the country by the PM of India on 16/03/2024. This scheme has been named PM's Surya Ghar Muft Bijli Yojna. (I would have loved calling it low price Bijli Yojna instead of “muft”, though). This scheme is valid up to 31/03/2027.

    The intent of the scheme is to encourage around one crore households that are registered consumers of electricity throughout the country to install rooftop solar plants in grid connected mode so that they can not only consume power but also generate & pump it into the electricity grid for consumption of the others. Thus, the consumer can turn to be a producer of electricity too & join the growing band of proud electricity “prosumers” who will also benefit because of free/low cost 300 units of electricity, available to them, per month.

    This scheme is essentially targeted at the households that have a maximum demand of around 3 KW. It is envisaged that this enabling scheme shall produce renewable electricity of 1000 billion units through the capacity installed under the scheme & will result in reduction of 720 million ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emission during the 25 years lifetime for rooftop solar projects thus helping in keeping the environment of the country clean to some extent.

    One of the main enablers for the scheme is the central financial assistance (CFA) that shall be provided by the government for installation of Roof Top Solar panels/plants in residential segment.

    UT of J&K has been categorised as a special category beneficiary along with HP, Uttarakhand, & Northeastern states etc.. The CFA component for these states/UTs is more than that prescribed for other states & UTs.

    The table below gives an idea about the CFA component of the scheme as applicable to various capacities of RTS schemes & their project cost:

    S. No Type of residential segment Project cost for special category states/UT CFA (special category states / UT)
    1. 1 KWp Rs. 55,000 Rs. 33,000
    2. 2 KWp Rs. 110,000 Rs. 66,000
    3. 3 KWp Rs. I59,000 Rs. 85,800
    Note: the subsidy component beyond 3 KWp capacity of RTS under the PMSGY is frozen at Rs. 85,800

     

    The nodal agencies for this scheme are the respective distribution companies; JPDCL for Jammu region & KPDCL for the Kashmir region.

    The scheme also advises the state/UTs to decide on additional subsides, beyond CFA to the prosumers in the residential sector so as to encourage saturation of the PM's Surya Ghar Muft Bijli Yojna (PMSGMBY).

    For taking advantage of the scheme the eligible prosumer should register themselves on the PM Surya Ghar Portal with a valid electricity consumer account number or ID provided to him/her by his/her distribution utility. It must also be understood that if a consumer desires to install a RTS of 3KWp at his/her residence then his/her registered load with the distribution utility should also be 3 KW or more. A consumer with registered load of, let us say 1 KW cannot look/register for an RTS of 2 or 3 KWp. The portal after registration generates an application ID & a receipt for the application submitted online. The portal also guides the consumer about as to what kind of generation can be expected from the RTS installed on the roof of his/her house based on the area of the roof & also assists in deciding the possible configuration.

    It may also be mentioned that the portal is still being populated with the data useful for the prosumers. The development of the portal & populating it with data base has probably got delayed because of the “moral code of conduct” in force after the elections were declared for the Lok Sabha. In fact, the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, GoI, issued operational guidelines for implementation of PM Surya Ghar Muft Bijli Yojna for the CFA component to the residential consumers only on 07.06.2024, ie after the election process was over.

    After the consumer is registered on the National Portal, he/she may choose a vendor from the ones registered on the National Portal & may enter into arrangements with the RTS vendor & decide about costing etc. of the system amongst themselves. The discoms shall have no role in this process. As of now JPDCL is in the process of finalising its vendors & in due course of time their list shall be uploaded on the National Portal. However, one can see a big list of vendors on the National Portal that have been approved by various power utilities of other states & UTs.

    For benefit of the consumers the national portal shall also have a mechanism where the consumers will be able to take an informed decision regarding which vendor to choose. A standard document for vendor consumer agreement is also available on the portal though the stakeholders have a choice to make changes or adjustments based on their own requirements.

    The portal shall display the minimum technical specifications of the equipment to be installed under the project along with indicative cost of the components.

    Once the vendor installs the equipment the consumer is required to upload the system details on the portal along with geotagged photographs & get the system inspected by the representatives of the discom & get the net meter installed. After the necessary agreements are executed & project completed the e-token generated earlier on shall be activated for release of CFA for the electricity prosumers. The vendor is also required to provide free repair/maintenance service to the prosumer for a period of 5 years under Comprehensive Maintenance Contract.

    Its important to note that the full cost of the project shall have to be borne by the consumer to begin with & the CFA component shall be reimbursed directly to the prosumer in his bank account after the project is inspected by the concerned discom & finally commissioned. The government has also tied up with various banks of the country to provide loans for the project. All these facilities can be availed only if the consumer is registered on the National Portal of the PMSGMBY.

    In view of above it is important for JKites to take advantage of the PMSGMBY & help themselves as well as the nation in reducing dependence on the fossil fuel to meet our energy needs. If we are very lucky may be the government of J&K might also think of subsidising some portion of the project cost, in line with the recommendations of the MNRE, as part of J&K's contribution towards saturation of targets set by the Hon'ble Prime Minister.

     

     

    Northlines
    Northlines
    The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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