Delhi launches net metering programme

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Delhi in India has taken a step towards stimulating a market in rooftop solar by publishing regulations for a new net metering policy.

Once implemented, the policy will allow residents and businesses to earn credits from exporting surplus renewable energy generated from their properties to the grid.

Although Gujarat holds the honour of piloting India’s first net metering programme, Delhi’s is potentially the largest, offering the promise of kick-starting the widespread adoption of distributed solar in India’s most populous metrpolitan area.

The policy, launched by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) earlier this week, is open to all forms of renewables, but only solar – primarily rooftop based – is really feasible in Delhi due to its population density and limited land availability.

Last year Greenpeace India and consultancy Bridge to India published a report detailing how Delhi could fairly easily reach 2GW of solar by 2020 by exploiting the roofs of residential, industrial, government and other buildings.

DERC said the net metering policy outlined on Tuesday marked the first step forwards in creating the necessary regulatory conditions to stimulate distributed renewable energy generation in the city.

“After almost two years of waiting, the DERC has been wise in taking up the novel model of net-metering, which has proved successful both internationally and nationally for rooftop generation,” Greenpeace India said in a statement.

Although the policy document does not specify what tariffs will underpin the new system, the Times of India today reported that these will be published as early as next week, with figures of INR6-9 quoted by sources.

The policy is looks set to face some resistance from India’s distribution companies – or 'discoms' – that will have to buy the surplus power. The same Times report reported quoted anonymous discom officials complaining that the likely high unit cost they will have to pay will put even more pressure on their already stretched resources.

Nonetheless, Delhi’s progress in adopting net metering is likely to be closely observed as other states and cities in India look to exploit the country’s as-yet largely untapped distributed solar market.

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