May 8, 2015

Net Metering in Delhi ...started to benefit residents !

Net Metering - long awaited has started to make an appearance in New Delhi, and more and more residents and buildings are expected to benefit from its use.

The utility companies are expected to buy power at INR 5.50 from the residents who can produce power from their rooftop. While the article below has the details, and mentions broad and indicative rates, perhaps it may be beneficial for residents to check the rates and installation costs themselves, by sending in an email to

The pricing for a small rooftop power pack could be as low as INR 64000 per unit. This would be sufficient for smaller loads, and to meet needs of a small family. This will not have storage as part of the solar power pack. Off Grid solar packs are ones that have battery back up built in as well, and can store some power for the night as well.

Separate energy meters installed at the household level can measure energy produced and consumed / exported into the grid, for the grid tied systems. The scheme can work in Delhi, and many residents have already expressed willingness to go in for such systems. We are helping install several such systems, and can work with other companies in this space to help install more.

The utility company benefits since they dont have to buy expensive power - at peak power rates. Some amounts of energy ( typically during day time) can be produced using solar. If residents do this, en masse, the amount of electricity required during day use gets significantly reduced.

More details in this article that appeared in HT some time and read more...!

                   Article in Hindustan Times - talks about netmetering

MIT Report argues why residential rooftops are not the best place for Solar !

The MIT report talks about the subsidies being offered in the USA based on costs of installation - a flawed approach. For instance, if the benchmark cost of installation is fixed, does that define subsidies to be provided for solar. In our view thats absolutely wrong. How do you incentive efficient and cost effective installations. 

In India, for instance, the cost of grid tied installations is now dropping to about INR 65-70 per watt depending upon site location, and complexities of installation. Hence, a power plant producing about 300 KWp of rated capacity, and producing about 435000 units of electricity annually, would cost about INR 94.25 lakhs, thereby providing you with an average payback period of less than 7 years factoring in 3 % increase on prevailing electricity tariff ( average taken at INR 7.80 per Kwh - of course different states in India have different electricity tariff rates).

The report ( link attached below) essentially argues that solar energy costs more per unit of generating capacity on rooftops than on vast solar farms. Therefore if the two types receive the same cost-based subsidy then more money will be paid for less generating capacity with rooftop systems than with large utility-scale arrays.

               Why the best place for solar panels may not be on your roof ?

May 7, 2015

Impact investing is changing lives, not finances | Business , International | THE DAILY STAR

It seems energy is forecasted to get more and more financing, in the coming future, the investors are looking for returns, but social good is important to them - and many amongst them feel that the returns are adequate for them to continue investing...

Read the full article attached

                 Impact investing is changing lives, not finances

Feb 27, 2015

Design your own solar power system : For Individual Home Owners

We can design a residential solar system by ourselves. For this one needs to know what a solar system is made of. The basic components of the system are:

  • Solar Panels
  • Charge controller
  • Inverter
  • Battery
The whole designing of the system is based on the energy consumption of the electrical appliances that need to be powered by the solar panels.
The step by step procedure of designing the system as follows:
Determine the Power consumption demand:

Let us take an example, in a house there are 4 CFL of 18 watts which operates for 4 hours in day ( though it is always better to use LED to save and reduce load, but the fact remains that CFLs are more prevalent and used in todays time - our experience and research shows that residences are shifting to use of LED bulbs and fixtures and the new buildings being made are preferring LED technology).

Two 80 watt fans used 4 hours in day and
1 television of 150 watt operates 2 hours in day.
Now, the total appliances usage in watt-hours :
CFL: 4 no’s x 18 watts x 5 hours = 360 watt-hours/day
Fans: 2 no’s x 80 watts x 4 hours = 640 watt-hours/day
TV: 1 no x 150 watts x 2 hours = 300 watt-hours/day
Adding all the above values,
(360 + 640 + 300) watt-hours/day
1300 watt-hours/day
This is the daily energy requirement that needs to be backed by the solar panels.
Sizing the PV panels:
Energy required from the solar panels = 1300 x 1.25(as some of energy is lost in the form of heat)
                                                               = 1625 watt-hours/day
Now, divide this value by the solar insolation for that area where the system is to be installed to get the peak wattage of the solar panels.
(The average solar insolation New Delhi is 5.5 KWhr per square metre daily but you would typically get about 5 units of solar energy production every day)
=325 watts
Therefore, number of 120 watt panels needed: 3 no.s

Inverter sizing:
The total watt of the appliances is
CFL: 4 no’s x 18 watts = 72 watts
Fan: 2 no’s x 80 watts = 160 watts
TV: 1 no x 150 watts = 150 watts
Adding all the three values, 72 watts + 160 watts + 150 watts we get 382 watts.
For safety purposes the inverter should be at least 25%-30% bigger in size.
Therefore, the rating of the inverter should be 382 x 1.3 = 496.6 watts or greater.

Sizing the batteries:
Calculate the total wattage of the load (as calculated above) = 382 watts
Divide this value by 0.8(battery loss) = 382/0.8 = 477.5 watts
Divide this by 0.8 (conversion loss by inverter while converting current from dc to ac current) = 477.5/0.8
 = 596.87 watts
Divide this by 0.7 for the depth of discharge (for long life don’t fully discharge the batteries, keep 30% charge remaining in the batteries)
= 596.87/0.7 = 850 watts
This is the amount of energy which is required from the batteries to run the appliances.
Now let us suppose that backup required from the batteries is 5 hours.
Multiply 850 watts by 5 hours, we get  watt-hours which are required from the batteries.
Now, divide the result by 12 volts, the nominal battery voltage, to get the capacity of the battery, we get 4250/12 = 354 ampere-hours.
So, the battery should be rated 12 volts 354 Ah for 5 hours back up. Or one can even plan for a 24 V system in which case, the Ah capacity would be half of 354 Ah.

Sizing the solar charge controller:
The rating of the charge controller = total short circuit current of the PV array x 1.3
The 120 watt PV module specification is:
  • Power in watts (Pm) = 100 watts
  • Open circuit voltage (Voc) = 21 volts
  • Short circuit current (Isc) = 6.95 amperes.
  • Voltage at maximum power (Vmp) = 17 volts
  • Current at maximum power (Imp) = 6.18 amperes
We assumed that the solar panels are arranged in the parallel combination. The current will get add up i.e. 6.95 x 4 = 28.4 amperes. Therefore, the rating of the solar charge controller is 28.4 x 1.3 = 36.92 amperes.
So, the solar charge controller should be rated 36.92 amperes at 12 volts or greater. You would typically get a 40 A rating charge controller in the market.

This is the basic designing that one can do oneself and evaluate the cost of the system based on the specification of the components.

Financing Solar in India : 7600 MWs added every year

There are close to 171 banks operating in India with 76,000 branches and over 12,000 NBFCs. There is already talk at the Central Ministry level of financing solar via the bank branches and the Regional Rural Banks. Initial meetings and top level honchos have met, with the MNRE officials, and they have been mandated to send the message downwards to the branches. While things are yet to change at the branch level, one often wonders ......What if each bank branch was mandated to finance 100 KW of solar power each year. Where would this lead us ?

The plain arithmetic of this is mind boggling !

7,600 MWs of solar power added to the country's capacity every year and the biggies have not even stepped in.

Is 100 KW difficult to finance ? Not really, if we consider an average sized branch - it can benefit from about 8-12 KW of SPV plant itself for its own captive consumption. With each branch catering on an average to around 1800 customers, being able to offer this proposition to 20 customers of this lot, should not be difficult since the bank would have access to repayment capability. Financing this, would be in the bank's interests in any case ( even if its on preferential interest rates).

Imagine if this becomes policy or mandate for the next 10 years. Remember that grid parity can be achieved by 2017 according to experts, and we believe that timeline shall get crunched even more. So financing and offering this post 2016-17, should be a compelling proposition in any case.

Now, if this can provide 76,000 MWs of decentralised energy generation, this is equivalent to producing about 110,000 MWs via power plants and distributing (taking into account, various T & D losses).

Financing solar in India truly is the key to unlocking solar potential in India.

Feb 9, 2015

New Delhi : Power Scenario

This is an excerpt of w white paper on Delhi's power scenario going around, in social media, hence the views expressed here are not the ones that we subscribe to. However, here goes, since it makes for an interesting reading of the current scenario. With AAP, likely favorites to emerge, the scenario post New Delhi elections shall need some close observations as to how electricity rates are going to pan out.

Quote :
On January 10, Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented competition in power distribution sector with consumers having an option of choosing their power service provider as a solution to cut down power tariffs in Delhi. Discoms in Delhi have become private monopolies and introducing competition would indeed be a welcome move. However, oversimplified formulation of drawing a parallel between power and telecom is misleading and erroneous. While competition in electricity distribution will help in containing the electricity tariffs , it cannot be panacea for all the ills plaguing this sector as therer are very serious issues at various levels.

If things continue the way they are power tariff in Delhi will be around two and a half times in five years from now. The people of Delhi owe to power distribution companies—Anil Ambani owned BSES and Tata—Rs 11,432 crores with the carrying cost of 8 percent interest per annum. Another approximately 1500 crores of rupees is in the process of being approved by Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC). In the existing policy and regulatory framework, there are only three ways to pay off the regulatory assets —(a) the central government provide funds to liquidate regulatory assest  (b) the Delhi government pays off the  discoms; (c) the consumers pay by way of increased tariff. Two years ago the then Delhi CM Sheila Dixit had tried exploring the first option but had failed. She had approached the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram to provide assistance under Accelerated Power Sector Reforms—a scheme by which Central government disburses grants for power sector reforms. The then  Finance Minister  had refused to grant the aid on the ground that the power sector in Delhi was already privatized while the scheme was meant state owned electricity boards. The second option is hardly feasible as the annual budget of Delhi government for 2014-15 is just Rs 36,766 crores, a little more than the budget of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (Rs 31,178 crores). Its next to impossible for Delhi Govt to write off the Rs 13000 crores of discom debt. Hence the only way the discoms can recover their dues is by doubling or tripling the power tariff.

Imagine an average middle class family paying a monthly electricity bill of Rs 5,000 for roughly 500 units in a few years from now. The moot point is  how has the system allowed this situation come to pass? What were the regulators and the government doing? Why did the previous regimes didn’t order an audit of discoms and regulate the cost of power generation? The power policy followed by successive governments has failed in bringing in transparency in the functioning of various players. Everybody involved in the chain—from fule suppliers to power producers to transmission companies to distribution companies—have made money at the cost of hapless captive consumer- a common man . The beneficiary companies include both private as wells as public sector companies.

It is now well understood that  power producers with captive coalmines did not  pass the benefit of free coal to the end consumers. Power generators who were dependent on imported coal ,  inflated the cost  of coal imports thus not only siphoning the money abroad but also securing a higher power tariff. The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence in its recent investigations has pegged the overvaluation of the coal imports at Rs 29,000 crores between 2011 and 2014 alone.   This cost too has been paid by consumers.

The PSUs involved in fuel supply, power generation, and power transmission have also made windfall gains. The monopoly of Coal India has made it one of the most inefficient but ironically one of the most profitable and cash rich PSUs. Private players involved in the excavation, supply and benefaction (washing) of coal—mine operators, transporters, coal washeries—have earned undue profit in the process.  Several cases registered by CBI and reports of expert committees set up by the Supreme Court reveals massive theft of coal during the mining, washing and transportation process. It’s the end consumer who has been paying for this dishonest practice . Both Public and Private sector power producers show excessive coal consumption( by way of very high station heat rate) to show high cost of power generation resulting in unreasonably high tariffs.

The devil lies in the details. Power generators are charging unwarranted overhead expenditures in the name of administration, welfare, research and development, secondary oil consumption and maintenance cost, which cumulatively hike up the power cost. Investigations by DRI show that the capital cost incurred by some producers has also been artificially hiked manifold. According to reports the DRI is "investigating gross overvaluation of import of equipment and machinery by various entities of Adani Group from a UAE-based intermediary.” Like in the case of over-invoicing of coal imports, the over-valuation of capital equipment for power projects enables the power producers to, (a) siphon off the public money procured from PSU banks; (b)exaggerate its capital cost of power production.

The latest power tariff orders passed by DERC throw up very important  issues. The rates at which power generators are selling power to Delhi discoms varies between Rs1.2 per unit to Rs12.21 per unit. Consider this, the newly commissioned Sasan Ultra mega power plant which was awarded coal blocks under competitive bidding is selling power to Delhi at Rs 1.2 per unit. Reliance owned Sasan UMPP bagged coal blocks by bidding to supply power at Rs 1.196/unit. On the other hand Central PSU National Thermal Power Corporation, which have coal linkages with Coal India and which supplies about 75 percent of Delhi’s total power consumption, sells power at rates between as low as Rs 1.75 per unit to as high as Rs 6.15 per unit.  Similarly, NHPC plants supplies power at per unit rates varying dramatically between Rs 1.77 to Rs 12.21.  The issue is why Delhi does not have access to cheaper power and why it is being forced to buy expensive power ?

Unfortunately Delhi has limited captive power generation capacity resulting in its dependence of  external sources of power generation who profit at the cost of consumers. To contain ever increasing demand of electricity, it is imperative that Govt of NCT of Delhi sets up power generation plants either by itself or in collaboration with other players at most economical rates and locations.

Since Discoms earn an assured return of 16 percent (return on equity), they don’t care about the cost of power purchased they will be made  accountable in their functioning . Ways and means have to found to encourage distribution companies  to purchase power from economical sources and wriggle out of expensive and unsustainable Power Purchase Agreements.

The discoms in Delhi need to be told that before they could square off Rs 13000 crores of regulatory debt they will have to agree to an unconditional and thorough CAG audit. In the past the BSES has been penalized by DERC for goldplating its expenses and fraudulent practices. Individual instances of corruption and cost inflations lead to suspicion of a pattern in inflating expenses and thus warrant a comprehensive audit. Until that happens the Delhi Government will have to support the economically disadvantaged who are already reeling under high power tariff rates and any further hike would break their back. In addition the state of Delhi needs to promote solar power on a large scale and the concept of Green buildings.

A more efficient, transparent and accountable system to regulate and audit the power sector players  is inescapable The present mechanism of Electricity Regulatory Commissions too require a complete overhaul. The standing parliamentary Committee on energy in its report dtd 24.8.2012 presented in LokSabha  stated  “The Regulatory Commissions have become the refuge for the superannuated but influential officials. Their primary objective is to remain in employment rather than making any meaningful contribution with regard to the activities of the Commissions in the pursuit of their objectives. Hence these bodies have lost sheen and the authority, which they were designed to represent.” The opaque and arbitrary nature of the Commissions’ functioning have made them susceptible to extraneous forces. The fact that regulatory assets were allowed to accumulate since 2006 is a testimony of DERC’s failure. In the past one year alone power tariff in Delhi has been hiked by 15 percent. The total increase would have been 22 percent by now had the regulator not been forced to withdraw the order of November 14 hiking the power tariff by another seven per cent. DERC withdrew the order within 24 hours after the opposition launched a fierce attack on the Central Government and threatened to take to the streets.

Transco, the Delhi govt owned transmission company, is in a poor shape. Discoms have been irregular in paying Transco the wheeling charges. As a result Trasnco has failed to upgrade and enhance the transmission capacity leading to frequent power outages during peak demands in the summers. Delhi’s electricity scenario is a ticking time bomb.

Unless urgent corrective steps are taken to put in place a transparent and accountable mechanism to regulate unwarranted profit making by coal(fuel) suppliers, power generators, transmission and distribution companies, the people of Delhi will soon be staring at a power crisis of nightmarish proportions.

Jan 17, 2015

Oil at USD 20 per barrel ! Solar Scenario

A research study doing the rounds suggests that the oil producers are deliberately reducing prices, to counter the rising use of renewables. And to make this less attractive to deploy.

Will this help a lost cause ?

Preliminary analysis shows clearly so - and will accelerate the development of new and viable models, to deploy renewable energy solutions in mature markets. New financing models shall emerge faster and with greater efficiency, albeit with lesser margins. This is likely to be compensated through greater volumes of deployment as large tranches of power requirements move to renewable.

The producers seem to realize that is it better to consume oil to the maximum extent possible - and the oil producing economies realize that it perhaps may be imprudent to wait forever, and try and outlast the other oil producers as regards production and reserves are concerned. This seems to be a smart strategy then.. !

Imagine the world economy moving to a scenario where oil is at USD 20 ( or 25) ? A resource which is clearly not going to be around forever - moving to lower rates is currently unthinkable. We are yet to find other examples of similar resources or use cases, where this has happened. Typewriters ? Cassette tapes ? Walkman ? Sure... but natural resources - we cant think of any !

Jan 14, 2015

Loans on Rooftop Solar Power - Solar Financing

It seems that the government is banking on financing of rooftop solar projects to achieve the ambitious target of 40,000 MWp of Grid-Interactive Rooftop Solar PV Plants during the next five years.

The interesting part is that the rooftop solar PV plants will be set up in residential, commercial, industrial, institutional sectors in the country ranging from 1 kWp to 500 kWp capacity. Haryana has already come out with a polciy on all new construction where 3-5% of rated load needs to be powered via renewable. Also, for industry, such rooftop plants have become economically viable as they produce clean electricity from the solar energy at about Rs. 7.0 per kWh without any subsidy. Notably, the subsidy percentage is coming down, and the Government is providing a subsidy of 15% on these plants to the beneficiaries which makes it further attractive and viable. Earlier this subsidy used to be 30% and the benchmark price also used to be higher.

What remains to be seen is the banks perspective and if this can be financed readily on their part. This massive target can be achieved with support from banks to provide loans for
installation of Grid-Interactive Rooftop Solar PV Plants to the loan seekers as a part of home
loan/ home improvement loan. Such loans can be taken at normal home loan / home improvement loans that are offered by banks in normal course.

In compliance, so far, eight Public Sector Banks namely Bank of India, Syndicate Bank,
State Bank of India, Dena Bank, Central Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Allahabad Bank
and Indian Overseas Bank have shown interest and sent instructions downwards to the respective branches.

Write to us at to know more about this option or visit the contact us page on our website and mention financing as an interest area for more options.

Jan 2, 2015

HAREDA's new policy for solar rooftops in Haryana

State shall promote installation of small capacity roof top grid connected Solar Power Plants on the roofs of Industries, public and private Institutes, schools, colleges, commercial institutions/establishments, Charitable Trust Bhawans, Hospitals and residential buildings etc. for their captive use and for sale to power utilities. Apart from 30 % capital subsidy available to Solar Projects under MNRE schemes, the State DISCOMS shall procure the solar power generated at a fixed feed in tariff. During the tenure of this policy, State shall install aggregate 50 MW capacity of roof top grid connected Solar Power Plants.
The building owners shall also be encouraged to install the small capacity rooftop solar power plants (5KW to 100KW) at their own cost on net metering basis. The power generated shall be used by building owner as captive use and if any surplus power is generated than it shall purchased by DISCOMs of Haryana on the tariff fixed by HERC for roof top SPV power plants (the grid connectivity near the solar installation to be provided by DISCOMs subject to the condition that the individual building owner is the existing consumer of DISCOMs).The State Govt. shall provide financial assistance @ 40 % of the cost of system to the beneficiaries (including financial incentive being provided by Ministry of Renewable Energy, GOI under JNNSM i.e. if 30% financial assistance is provided by MNRE, than additional 10% shall be provide from green energy fund)
Haryana has very little by way of solar installations in a country where solar energy has become the main thrust of the national solar energy policy. Every state is competing with others to attract solar investments and increase the use of solar energy for electricity. The country which saw its solar demand plummet by almost 30% last year, is set to see a strong rebound this year. The highest ever solar installations in states such as Rajasthan and AP outdo each other by doing gigawatt deals. The central government has already sanctioned thousands of crores to promote giant solar parks, solar canals etc.
Now Haryana has joined the solar party, with the government starting to implement its solar policy which was notified in September 2014. The new order makes it mandatory for all buildings with size greater than 500 sq. yards to install solar panels. They would have to install a minimum of 1 kW or 5% of their power requirements whichever is higher. This would lead to a giant rush in small rooftop solar installations as every building has to complete this order by September 2015. Even assuming that there will be delay, I think this could easily lead to a sale of 50 MW of solar power systems in the small space.
This would not lead to a big increase in absolute installations but would help turbo charge the rooftop installation space, which has not seen much traction as most subsidies have been given to large ground mounted solar installations. The total rooftop market in the countrycumulatively has been just 125 MWHaryana could become the pioneer in the small rooftop space with this initiative.