New Delhi residents to become renewable energy suppliers

4 September 2014

NEW DELHI: Citizens of New Delhi in India can now sell their solar power to the grid, thanks to new regulation just set by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission. The policy aims to reduce high electricity costs for households and businesses, favoring at the same time the use of clean, innovative energy.

The net-metering system is based on ‘credits’: if a citizen produces more electricity than they need, it is released into the power grid and will count for an equal discount on their next bill. And if at the end of the financial year there is more energy put into the system than consumed, the power supplier will pay the consumer for it. However, it is still not clear the exact amount of money the Government will put into the scheme. 

India is taking many steps toward the power possibilities afforded by the sun. At the beginning of the year, the Government announced the construction of the world’s largest solar power plant in Rajasthan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also recently said that India “needs a revolution that focuses on renewable energy sources such as solar energy, to meet its growing energy demand”.

New Delhi itself has the potential to generate almost half of its peak energy demand through solar systems. A report, 'Rooftop revolution' by Greenpeace and Bridge to India Energy, estimates that 31 km2 or 4.42% of New Delhi’s rooftop space is available for PV systems. But this small percentage can give a huge geographic solar potential of 2,557 MW. By comparison, last year, Berlin - one of the leading cities in this pioneering field - generated 104 MW.

The report also states that if solar PV was installed on the city's Government buildings, it would be cheaper to use the energy generated than buying it from the grid - even considering all of the costs involved. For residential buildings, this will be possible in 2018 due to rising electricity bills combined with decreasing costs for solar panels.

Jarnail Singh, India Program Manager, The Climate Group, says the new regulation, “is such a great leap forward and a win-win for power sellers as well as buyers. Residents like me can generate power, while the DISCOMS could claim these energy credits against their renewable power obligations.”

The policy helps to solve issues linked to the storage of solar energy, a cost that can increase the initial price of a system by more than one quarter. However, it will require new regulation and management of the power grid. And in a nation so vast and populated, connecting to the grid can be a problem. Over 400 million people, especially a large portion of rural India, still don’t have access to electricity, according to the World Bank Institute.

To challenge this issue, The Climate Group launched “Bijli - Clean Energy for All - principally funded by the Dutch Postcode Lottery. The plan aims to supply solar energy to rural communities that don't have access to the national, yet unstable grid. This will not only enhance the lives of India’s rural inhabitants, but is also a big step to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It can also save thousands of lives, since many communities use dangerous power sources like kerosene. The program is also a demonstration of the social and economic opportunities for sustainable off-grid electrification models.

Find out more about Bijli - Clean Energy for All.

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By Anisha Laming and Ilario D'Amato

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