Solar Power: Net Metering in Maharashtra
Due to rapid industrialization and urbanization,electricity demand in the country has increased rapidly.While nearly one-third of the population lacks access to electricity, many others have to endure routine power cuts. Production of coal which provides about quarter of the country’s electricity has not been able to keep pace with demand. Even when coal is available, discoms are reluctant to buy power from gen cos as they are not confident about recovering their costs. Cost of coal itself is variable and expected to increase. Renewable energy is expected to play an important role in bridging this supply-demand gap.
Solar energy is fastest growing power source in the country. The Central Government has set an ambitious target of 100,000 MW installed capacity for solar energy by 2022. About 40,000 MW is targeted from on-site (e.g rooftop, parking lot, vacant land) solar power plants at the consumer’s premises.Out of this, MNRE has been proposed highest capacity target of 4,700 MW for Maharashtra.
Solar is an in firm source of energy.Generation from solar power plant varies with various factors such as solar irradiation, cloud cover, temperature etc. At the same time, there may be unavailability of load at the consumer’s facility due to factors such as lunch time, shift change, holidays etc. To match constantly varying generation and consumption, facility of energy storage is required at the consumer’s premises. However current cost of batteries makes it financially unviable.
To address this challenge and to promote solar energy installations, various solutions have been used across the world. Net metering is a one of the solutions to this technical challenge. It is an arrangement where energy is injected into the grid at the time when there is no load demand at the consumer’s end. This energy can be consumed at a later point of time during availability of load.
Net Metering was first introduced in USA to promote onsite renewable energy installations in 1980.Today almost all states in USA have made rules mandating utilities to provide Net Metering facility to consumers.
Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) released Net Metering Regulations on 10th September 2015. Salient features of the regulations are as follows:
- Ownership – Can be owned by the consumer or third party
- Capacity Limits – Lower of Contract Demand/ Sanctioned Load or 1 MW
- Term of the Agreement – Twenty years
- Energy Accounting – Adjustment in respective Time-of-Day (To D) slots. Excess energy left un adjusted at the end of the month will be adjusted during night time and then carried forward to next month MSEDCL will publish final application form and net metering agreement on the basis of model documents released by MERC.
A consumer interested in setting up a rooftop solar Net Metering system will submit the application form to MSEDCL along with technical details of the system.Before solar power systemstarts generating electricity, MSEDCL and Consumer will enter into a Net Metering connection agreement.The accounting of electricity exported and imported by the Consumer shall become effective from the date of connectivity of the rooftop Solar PV System with the distribution network.
Despite announcement of net metering regulations in all leading solar states including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, Delhi,net metering is yet to pick up. In order to make net metering successful in Maharashtra, technical standards and operational procedures need to be clearly defined.Long term support from State Government in terms of policy clarity and stability will make Maharashtra a leader in distributed generation.
About the Author :
Ashish Tikhe is Manager – Policy and Regulations at Sunshot Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
Sunshot Technologies is a leading On-Site Solar Power company. It provides customised solar power solutions to industrial and commercial consumers in the country.