Renewable energy is the most sustainable and affordable pathway to meet India’s rapidly growing energy demand. At 100 GW, solar energy comprises the largest component of India’s goal of 175 GW of renewable capacity by 2022. The ‘Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM)’ scheme of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has sought to leverage the largely agrarian economy towards India’s renewable goals. The scheme proposes 2 MW grid-connected solar power plants in rural areas; standalone off-grid solar water pumps to fulfil the agri-irrigation needs of farmers not connected to the grid; and solarising existing grid-connected agriculture pumps to make farmers independent of grid supply and enable them to sell surplus solar power generated to DISCOMs for additional income.
Leveraging the potential of solar energy in India and the need for access to clean, reliable daytime electricity for farmers, Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is implementing three initiatives:
1.Decentralised Solar Power Plants:
Solarisation of Agriculture Feeders Programme
In this first-of-its-kind programme, EESL is setting up decentralised solar projects ranging from 0.3 MW to 10 MW capacity in vacant, un-used land of DISCOMs. Power generated from these decentralised solar power plants are being fed to agriculture feeders, which in turn, is greatly benefitting both farmers and DISCOMs by means of:
Quality and reliable day time electricity to farmers
Savings on the Transmission network cost, reduced T&D losses for DISCOM
Under the government of Maharashtra's prestigious 'Mukyamantri Sour Krushi Vahini Yojana', EESL and Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) signed a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for 500 MW decentralised solar power. EESL has been tasked with financing, EPC and O&M at the plants on MSEDL-provided land. With 100 MW already commissioned, EESL is on track to achieve 500 MW in decentralised solar, which will generate around 766 million units of clean electricity annually and mitigate 0.63 million tonnes in annual CO2 emissions. Also in the pipeline is 300 MW of decentralised solar in Maharashtra, in partnership with MAHAGENCO.
2.Solar Rooftop projects
EESL is setting up grid-connected solar PV-based rooftop projects at various government buildings under three different business models.
i. Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) model: Under this model, the rooftop owner buys the rooftop solar system, and the customer may or may not take a loan to fund part of the investment, after investing his equity. The owner evaluates the payback period and return generated from the installed system while replacing certain part of grid sources power. Power generated is consumed by the rooftop owner; surplus power generated is fed to the grid, with an arrangement of paying for the surplus power fed or banked, as per the net metering regulations and policies. Though this model is simple, it does hold the rooftop owner liable for project risks.
ii. RESCO model: EESL owns the system on the consumer’s rooftop. The electricity generated is consumed by the rooftop owner at a mutually agreed tariff defined in the PPA signed between the consumer and EESL. In the case of excess generation, surplus power is fed into the distribution grid. It can then either be adjusted in the consumer’s monthly bill or the distribution utility can provide banking facility for a period as defined in the state regulation.
iii. Annuity model: EESL makes the entire upfront investment and undertakes project development. The rooftop owner provides fixed payments in a periodic manner (monthly/quarterly). The key advantage to this model is that the risk is shared equally between the two entities. As on date, EESL has signed an agreement with TEDA for 50 MW rooftop projects at government buildings in Tamil Nadu under the RESCO model, and is in discussion with various states, industries etc. for setting up similar rooftop projects.
3. Solar Pumping projects
EESL is currently carrying out competitive bidding for 175,000 off-grid solar pumps - component B of PM-KUSUM scheme on behalf of MNRE.