Kerala State Electricity Board seeks approval for 300MW off-grid PV plan

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The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) is reportedly seeking approval for proposals to install 300MW of off-grid PV and has submitted plans to the Indian state’s electricity regulatory commission.

According to The Times of India, the board is promoting off-grid PV installations with battery storage as a back up as an alternative method of generating power to meet the state’s electricity demand.

It is understood that the board will be targeting domestic residential consumers which use more than 200 units of power a month and encouraging them to install an off-grid PV system.

The move may also be part of the Kerala Rooftop Solar Policy 2012 which seeks to install 10MW of off-grid PV capacity on residential rooftops. Under this policy, individuals are allowed to apply for one PV system with a capacity of 1kW. These rooftop installations will be able to benefit from a government subsidy of up to 30% of the cost of the system or INR81,000 (US$1,466), whichever is lowest. Applications were being accepted from 1 September 2012. By 17 September, 1,278 applications had been submitted, Bridge to India reveals.

According to Bridge to India, a market intelligence company, India had a total of 103.81MW of off-grid installed PV capacity (PV systems larger than 1kW) as of 30 November 2012. This was largely driven by capital subsidies available through the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).

Commenting on the potential of off-grid PV in the Indian market, Jasmeet Khurana, a consultant at Bridge to India, told PV-Tech: “Currently, India is focusing on utility-scale projects as they generate investor interest and the likelihood of meeting central and state level targets is easier through that route.

“However, the true potential of solar in India lies in the decentralised generation of solar power. During power cuts, that can vary from 4-8 hours in many parts of the country, a significantly large number of Indian industrial, commercial and residential consumers have to rely on power generators that use diesel as a source of fuel.

“The levelised cost of energy using solar PV is already cheaper than generating that power through diesel generators. Also, in some parts of the country, solar PV is already cheaper than the commercial tariff of the grid electricity. There are hurdles with respect to non-availability of net-metering, poor availability of upfront financing and general lack of knowledge and distribution networks. However, the market is poised to take off soon.”

Khurana added that under Bridge to India’s market model, “market segments such as grid parity (commercial), diesel parity for captive use and diesel parity for backup power will account for around 3.2GW of installed capacity by 2016”.

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