The ‘PM Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana’ aims to light up one crore households by providing up to 300 units of free electricity every month.

‘Rushed announcement’: Centre launches ₹75,000 crore rooftop solar scheme ahead of polls

The Centre launched a $9 billion “rooftop solar push” to power 10 million homes as elections loom, Bloomberg reported. The ₹75,000 crore investment will be made to bolster the transition to solar energy through subsidies and cheaper loans for rooftop solar.  The scheme would reduce power bills for the “poor and middle class”. The ‘PM Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana’ aims to light up one crore households by providing up to 300 units of free electricity every month, the Indian Express reported.  Mercom reported that the programme information was still under discussion and pending consultation with industry stakeholders and that the industry is concerned “at what appears to be a rushed announcement” and its portal “does not include details of the new programme design.”

According to the PV Magazine the scheme offers a subsidy of ₹30,000/kW up to 2 kW, and ₹18,000/kW for additional capacity up to 3 kW. The total subsidy for systems larger than 3 kW has been capped at ₹78,000.

Over 73 gigawatts (GW) of solar power had been installed in India as of December 2023, but rooftop solar capacity has seen sluggish uptake and is only around 11.08 GW, the report said, noting that officials have said money would be deposited in bank accounts of people who install solar panels and they would be able to sell surplus electricity back to the grid.

India talks with IEA for full membership

According to PTI, ministers from the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 31 member countries “have begun talks with India on its application to become a full member” in “recognition of the country’s strategic importance in tackling global energy and climate challenges”. PTI quoted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said: “I am sure that the IEA will benefit when India plays a bigger role in it…Inclusivity boosts the credibility and capability of any institution.” The PM said India was “firmly committed to combating climate change”, noting: “In one decade, we went from the 11th largest economy to the fifth largest. In the same period, our solar energy capacity grew twenty sixfold. Our renewable energy capacity also doubled. We exceeded our Paris commitments in this regard, ahead of timelines.” The agency said India sent a formal request for full membership in October 2023.

Punjab floats tender for 31 MW rooftop solar projects

The Punjab State Power Corporation invited bids to set up 31.37 MW rooftop solar power projects at various office buildings, 66 kV grid substations, hydel projects, and thermal projects of PSPCL at different locations. The tender includes the essential components of a grid-connected rooftop solar system but are not restricted to the Approved List of Models and Manufacturers regulation-compliant mono-crystalline or bifacial solar modules in the required quantity, inverters/PCU and module mounting structures with a minimum ground clearance of 300 mm at the lowest point from the roof surface.

The e-tendering process for rooftop solar project installation, within the 100 kW to 500 kW capacity range, revealed a discovered rate of ₹50,072 (~$603.04)/kW, inclusive of GST.

Govt puts plans to reimpose approved list of models and manufacturers from April 1 on hold

The Centre kept on hold its recent order to reimpose the Approved List of Models and Manufacturers (ALMM) regulation from April 1, 2024. On February 9, 2024, the government had confirmed the reimposition of ALMM with exemptions for projects set up under open access solar and those in advanced stages of construction and rooftop solar projects with no subsidy.

The environment ministry specified that the ALMM regulation will be relaxed for solar projects in advanced stages of construction that have placed module orders before March 31, 2024. Many stakeholders questioned  the ambiguity around the definition of ‘advanced stages of construction’, Mercom reported. Earlier the government announced that The ALMM would apply to all government-subsidised projects, projects set up for consumption by the government and its agencies or distribution companies.

The announcement was taken off the website following concerns raised by stakeholders.

Last month, the MNRE expanded the ALMM by adding 64 MW of new solar module capacity, bringing the cumulative module manufacturing capacity to 22,191 MW. The list now has 72 module manufacturers.

Domestic solar manufacturing: Majority PLI winners list Chinese vendors for setting up solar equipment manufacturing

The flagship production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for solar equipment manufacturing, aimed at reducing import dependence, is likely to see significant Chinese presence in supply chain partnerships and related services., reported the Business Standard, adding that of the 12 winners of the PLI scheme for high-efficiency solar photovoltaic modules, 11 have listed supply chain partners and service providers from China, with some mentioning more than 20 Chinese vendors.  

According to the report, sector leaders Reliance New Energy Solar, Tata Power, ReNew Solar, Waaree Energies, Avaada Electro have listed vendors from China as major suppliers.

US solar boom opens $2 billion India door to banned products from China

According to a Bloomberg report, solar companies are successfully overturning the US ban on Chinese solar panels. A Bloomberg News examination of Indian and US import records says 

India’s largest solar producer, Waaree Energies Ltd., sent millions of panels to the US with components from a Chinese company whose products were repeatedly denied entry to the US market over concerns about forced labour. Those components, solar cells produced by China’s Longi Green Energy Technology Co. at plants in Malaysia and Vietnam, are used in Waaree panels blanketing solar farms in Texas and other states even as the US Customs and Border Protection officials are enforcing a ban on products tied to forced labour of Uyghur people in China’s Xinjiang region. The agency has detained thousands of shipments of solar panels made by Chinese-owned companies since it began enforcing the ban in June 2022 — interventions that companies can overturn by providing evidence their supply chains don’t involve Xinjiang sources. 

Following the US ban, Indian solar producers, which exported almost $2 billion worth of panels to the US in the first 11 months of last year, saw a fivefold increase over all of 2022, according to data compiled by BloombergNEF.