A glimpse into the future of Indian Solar – Ritesh Pothan


It was an immense pleasure to be amongst the august speakers at the Solar Market Conference in Delhi on the 29th and sharing the dias with key decision makers of India’s Renewable Energy Policy.

Key speakers were Tarun Kapoor – Joint Director MNRE, Dr. Pramod Deo – Chairman CERC, Dr. Ketan Shukla – Secretary GERC, Ashvini Kumar – Director MNRE, Deepak Gupta – Ex-Secretary MNRE, Pranav Mehta – President, Gujarat Solar Association, as well as many more.

My topic was on how to achieve grid scale, small scale, rooftop as well as off-grid solar targetsand was in line with my articles posted on the blog over the years. I was pleased to see most of my recommendations pre-empted by Tarun Kapoor, Deepak Gupta, Dr. Pramod Deo, Dr. Ketan Shukla amongst others.

Over the next few posts I will also release key information that everyone in the industry has been curious about.

However before that below is a post version of my presentation at the Solar Market ;

Scenario Today

  • £  1 GW+ grid based projects (~200MW Conventional)
  • £  AT&C Losses in excess of 30% (Rs. 75K+ Crores)
  • £  Growing pressure on alternate forms i.e. Solar
  • £  Solar Peak Cycle i.e. Baniya, Gartner
  • £  No CSP power on the ground or Energy storage
  • £  Land is expensive, grid connectivity poor and solar generation is far away from urban centers
  • £  Generation only during peak hours
  • £  Coal shortage, peak power unable to meet demand
  • £  Growing rural needs
  • £  States without power for days on end (AP, Delhi, UP)
  • £  Abnormalities resulting in grid failure
  • £  Poor Discom infrastructure and health unable to support the growing needs of the nation
  • £  RECs just gaining traction, future is hazy without enforcement

My key recommendations to strengthen the solar markets tomorrow were

On Grid Power Plants

  • Improve efficiencies and breadth of generation
  • Promote banking and storage
  • Professional Approach
  • Local distribution and Rural model adoption
  • Avoid land concentrations
  • Facilitate access for solar to international finance
  • Developers need to move up the ladder to partner for local grid distribution management
  • Optimize land use by creating solar parks for CSP closer to water with grid availability
  • Proper planning for states, dedicated solar zones close to high density population centres
  • Allow REC forward purchases for group companies
  • REC’s need to be viable at Rs. 5-7 per KWh for a minimum of 7 year period for financial closures
  • 1 Year validity needs to be increased, unsold older RECs to be sold at floor price before new ones accepted

Rooftops – Commercial

  • Clear Policy and tax rules for private / group use
  • Municipal mandate for solar thermal and power for commercial establishments
  • Incentivize Commercial rooftop private PPAs
  • Allow excess power to be sold to the grid under REC scheme with feed in Tariff based on hourly / zone input
  • RPOs for commercial organizations
  • Renewable Energy Cess in Corporate Tax
  • Standardization of state based policies
  • No regulatory compliance required for commercial rooftops, especially from Discoms for post meter usage
  • Incentives to Discoms on the RE component
  • RE on commercial to count towards RPO of Discoms

Residential and Off Grid

  • Home rooftop capital costs with storage subsidized upto 60% in cities and 80% in rural areas. (Limited to once in 10-20 yrs)
  • Hybrid, Smart grids and normalization in a cluster
  • Delivery system to be privatized
  • Private prepaid style delivery i.e. Simpa
  • Mix of technology and delivery
  • Government funding for such private programs (entrepreneurs)
  • Innovative Solar based devices with higher subsidies i.e. Solar Cookers (<Rs. 1500), Dryers, Pumps)
  • No Discom expensive infra required

End State

  • Balanced National Energy Security
  • Grid losses reduced to manageable levels
  • Better living conditions
  • Discom partnership
  • Lower subsidies on fossil fuel
  • Lower impact of grid failures
  • Higher grid availability
  • Reduced load on the grid
  • More efficient technologies given preference
  • Government restricted to policy and not delivery
  • Increased commercial activity resulting in high standards of living
  • Local employment generation
  • Rural progress

If we are able to action even a few over the coming year, it will provide a tremendous boost to solar acceptance in India.

Please do contact me if you have the ability and technology to deliver on these recommendations and I promise to support you in getting to the next level .

Till then fingers crossed and adieu…..

About Ritesh Pothan

Ritesh Pothan, is an accomplished speaker and visionary in the Solar Energy space in India. Ritesh is from an Engineering Background with a Master’s Degree in Technology and had spent more than a decade as the Infrastructure Head for a public limited company with the last 9 years dedicated to Solar and Renewable Energy. He also runs the 2 largest India focused renewable energy groups on LinkedIn - Solar - India and Renewables - India
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