Why doesn’t India have a Feed-in Tariff scheme for promoting Solar Energy?

Sideka Solartechnik Ibbenbüren 2

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This seriously beats me. When countries in Europe that don’t have sufficient sunlight availability (are not exactly sunlight hot spots) can today boast of achieving about 50% of their energy through solar power and other renewable sources of energy, why can’t India  (that gets ample sunlight throughout the year) replicate the same?

Large Government solar projects do help. The Government of Gujarat has set an excellent example by establishing the biggest solar plant in Asia. Kudos to them. But, large Government projects take a lot of time and require a lot of funds. Why not involve the people directly to build the solar infrastructure?

If even 20% of the property owners in cities/towns/villages can install their own solar PV panels, all our power-cut issues would be a long forgotten dream.

Most of the leading solar energy generating nations of this world have something called as the Feed-in tariff scheme to encourage individual land-lords/house-owners/land-owners to install their own solar panels. Germany took an early lead and is now one of the leading solar energy producing nations in the world.

Feed-in tariff is a Government scheme that rewards house owners for generating electricity using solar PV technologies. As you might have guessed, solar panels and related equipments are pretty expensive (though their costs are falling rapidly, every year) and hence a feed-in tariff gives a commercial incentive for people who have invested their capital for installing solar technologies.

With a feed-in tariff,

  • Consumer gets paid by the Government for whatever energy generated by them
  • This energy can either be put for their own use or be exported to a national grid
  • The revenue generated through feed-in tariffs is not taxed
  • The buying cost is fixed for a long-term, like 25 years

With feed-in tariff, customers can not only generate their own electricity but they also get paid to do so. Customers can not only expect an ROI (Return On Investment) for installing solar panels/technology, but they also make profits over the long-term.

In short, feed-in tariff is like a subsidy to encourage solar power generation directly by consumers. In most cases, it’s not possible for individual consumers to generate all their energy requirements through solar installations. Hence, they would still continue to buy electricity from the electricity board. But they buy only the additional electricity required.

While consumers earn a profit, electricity board gets more power to allocate and hence there need not be any power-cuts. The world becomes a little greener as solar power is a renewable source of energy. Everyone gains.

Why not implement solar feed-in tariff scheme in India?

In UK, other renewable technologies like wind, biomass, hydro, etc are also included in their feed-in tariff scheme. The European countries are under obligation by an EU law to generate 20% of their energy using renewable sources by 2020. India is a member of BRICS and I guess the member heads meet, have tea, pose for photographs and go back?

Some universities have installed solar thermal generators on their own and expect to reap the return on their investment in less than 4 years, without any subsidy! That is the potential of solar energy in India.

“It is a question of orientation. Walk across an open field on a bright sunny day – you can feel yourself being roasted and scorched by the burning sun, or you can feel a great joy in the perception that you are being bathed in a powerful flood of rich golden energy!” says John Harper, who was a part of the team that successfully installed solar bowl in Auroville, Pondicherry.

Solar heat has been harvested in Auroville (Pondicherry) and Mt. Abu (Rajasthan) to cook meals for up to 30,000 people without gas/coal! If government can encourage such projects, we can use the heat of the sun along with sunlight to generate massive amounts of energy ourselves. The potential here is larger than our green revolution!

While some states have made noticeable strides, we need a comprehensive feed-in tariff policy at the central level in order to reap the benefits fully and involve citizens to make India self-sufficient in power generation.

On a related note, don’t you think it’s high time the Government privatized electricity generation/distribution in India?

Destination Infinity

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12 Replies to “Why doesn’t India have a Feed-in Tariff scheme for promoting Solar Energy?”

  1. Well, many apartments now are coming up with this concept, at least here in pune and that’s a welcome change. But yes, government initiatives are very important to make things work.

    1. Individual efforts/community efforts are good, but have a slow ROI. Having monopolized the power generation/distribution, the least Government can do is to ensure that there are no power cuts. Don’t states buy power from others? Instead of buying it, why not invest the same cost in subsidies so that a permanent source of energy is established?

      In the EU, some countries expect 4 hours of sunlight in the winters and still they have installed solar panels. We can expect 16 hours of sunlight in the winter and we are happy with the power-cuts.

      Destination Infinity

  2. I have heard of this scehem in uk too, I went to enquire about it but its very expensive, It looks good on paper but not many people are going for it because of the expenses.

    But if the govt helps then surly more and more will take it up, Well I would for sure

    Not sure about india as govt is never willing to do anything that is good ever, till they get their pockets filled up first

    1. The initial expenses are quite high, but the ROI comes over the long term (not soon). In India, even though only a few people can install such systems if sufficient incentives are given, the power-cuts may reduce. Whether it will be done or not, we’ll have to wait and see.

      Destination Infinity

  3. I was under the impression the Govt was doing something abt it.
    But giving the power directly into the hands of people requires more research…ummm I’m supposing here. Maybe the ministers who planned a foreign trip based on this were rejected, so the any forays in that direction were firmly squashed….I knw, I knw I can be so lame 😛

    1. I think the Govt. of TN and a few others have announced that they will announce a solar policy. But no one knows what exactly they propose to do. But some action is happening in that area.

      Maybe those ministers were asked to do research online instead and hence the delay? 🙂

      Destination Infinity

    1. That commissions-wanting attitude is a huge hurdle that prevents our collective growth. I think it will slowly lessen, as we grow.

      Destination Infinity

  4. Interesting post DI.

    Surely government look forward for this option and I am still not know how government didn’t even considered it till now considering the huge difference in our demand and supply.

    Hopefully we should get this running as soon as possible.

  5. Hi….one correction….if I am not wrong generation of electricity is privatized in india….adani reliance and tata are living off that…..literally!

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