By Mihir Shah
India’s has 18% of the world’s population while it consumes less than 3.5% of power. There is a significant power shortage faced by the country. The next 20 years will witness an urban transformation in India that would be second only to that of China. In times of depleting resources and climate threat, the optimal road ahead is to tap India’s huge renewable energy resources.
Renewable energy is being now seen as a transformative solution to meet energy constraints. Recognizing this, the country has initiated steps to become one of the top 5 globally in terms of grid connected centralized renewable energy capacity.
There are various initiatives supported by positive and industry friendly government regulations that are enabling large scale solar and wind farms that are growing in both, size and efficiency. However, there is a clear need for solutions that do not rely on the central grid alone for power.
Considering, that the Government of India is promoting to achieve 100 GW of solar capacity in India by 2020, of which 40 GW is expected to be achieved through rooftop – solar projects. Roof-Top Solar Technology is emerging as a lucrative option with the abundantly availability of sunlight, technology and life span of 25-30 years of solar project life.
Solar powered homes can now become generators of energy not only for their own consumption, but also for usage by other consumers. This is possible by connecting the solar panels installed to the local main grid where the excess units can be transmitted to other users.
Not only is solar energy pollution free and easy to generate, it also helps avoid centralized creation of energy which then needs to be distributed across long distances; in case of solar powered homes, energy is distributed locally. Net-Metering Energy consumed through solar panels is billed under the concept of net metering.
Net Metering is an electricity policy designed for users of roof-top based panels to self generates power for their own consumption primarily and thereafter allows their electric meters to run backwards and send the extra power generated back to the main grid.
However, net metering takes into account the difference of excess energy fed back to the grid and total energy consumed from the grid by the system owner. Net metering allows the solar PV system owner to sell excess solar power generated to the utility company or buy deficit power from the utility company using a bi-directional meter to track this energy exchange.
A bi-directional meter is installed in the supply line to register import and export of power. Typically, a solar system produces more units of power when there is more sunlight and vice versa. With net metering in place, the user of the solar system does not have to bother about the wastage of extra units generated, as the units are being fed to the grid and can be used during days with lesser sunlight.
Hence, it balances out the extra generation and deficit; for example, if in summer, solar power generates 150 units and load requirement is 100 units, then 50 units can be fed back to the grid. In winter, solar power generates only 120 units and load requirement is 150 units, then 30 units can be consumed from the grid.
Thus, this brings about a balance in their electricity bills.Net metering in India Recognizing the efficiencies and cost advantages of solar usage, a number of states in India have been quick to adopt this method of energy consumption and net metering. Net metering has been working successfully in the western parts.
It helps cities to grow energy without increasing their dependence on grid connected systems while keeping pollution in check. There are currently nine states (Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Karnataka, Kerala, Delhi and Punjab) that have announced net-metering policies in India. Maharashtra’s Net metering policy is catching up with the fast moving policies of other states where Net metering is already set into practice and users are reaping benefits out of it .MERC
The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (the nodal ministry of Government of India which looks after all the aspects related to development of new and renewable energy in India) has issued guidelines for promoting grid connectivity to Roof-Top solar systems through the system of Net Metering .
MERC has published a draft citing the provisional guidelines and is under consideration. MERC has now opened avenues for common man’s participation in promoting green energy thereby reducing carbon footprints, mitigate climate changes and combat global warming.
This non-conventional energy source needs to be explored to its fullest capacity in Maharashtra. The state has set a target of 7,500 MW of solar power generation by 2019. To meet this target the recent State Policy on Net Metering could be a lift.
To conclude, tapping into the vast solar energy is one of the most efficient ways of fulfilling the government’s ambition to electrify every home before 2019.
(Mihir Shah is a student of Dhirubhai Ambani International School. He can be reached at