The Solar Industry is booming in India regardless of the Covid situation with the help of the Indian Government. We’ve witnessed various initiatives to enhance solar installations pan India, be it for rooftop, large scale ground mount projects or even the decentralized installations. The government is also strategically focusing on the Aatmanirbharta for solar. To execute this, various schemes such as CPSU Scheme Phase-II (12 GW), PM- KUSUM (20.8 GW) and Grid-connected Rooftop Solar Program Phase-II (4 GW) mandate the use of domestically manufactured Solar cells & Modules. The imposition of BCD on Solar Cells, Modules, Inverters & Lamps also plays a major role in creating a demand for domestic manufacturing. Although the path might seem to be difficult to some, it is going to be highly beneficial for the nation when we reach that stage.
At a webinar for consultation towards implementation of Union Budget provisions in the power and renewable sector, PM Modi said, “We want to see our companies become global manufacturing champions, not just fulfill local demands. The government’s approach for the energy sector is guided by four R’s: reach, reinforce, reform and renewable. For reach, last mile connectivity is needed. This reach needs to be reinforced by installation capacity, for that reforms are needed. Along with all this renewable energy is the demand of the time”
The most recent scheme to advance the Make in India drive for solar is the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme. The cabinet approved the PLI scheme proposed by the Ministry of Renewable Energy (MNRE) for the “National Programme on High Efficiency Solar PV Modules”.

What is the PLI Scheme for Solar?

The PLI scheme focuses majorly on aiding the domestic manufacturers to provide high efficiency modules that can stand out not just in the local, but the global market as well. The cabinet has also approved an outlay of ₹4,500 Cr. under this scheme.

Key Points:

Companies registered in India that are involved in manufacturing solar products can apply under this scheme. The applicants must meet the threshold criteria i.e. ₹10 cr. (MSME), ₹100 cr. (Others) and a maximum of ₹1000 cr. to be eligible for the disbursement of incentive. To meet these criteria, cumulative investment over the base year (2019-20) shall be considered. Additional expenses borne by the companies for machinery, R&D, and likewise will be eligible for the scheme. Companies will be selected through a transparent competitive bidding process. PLI will be disbursed for 5 years after the commissioning of the solar plants. The amount of PLI will increase as per the efficiency of the modules offered by the company. Companies sourcing domestic raw materials for their manufacturing will also be benefitted more. The domestic manufacturers are stirred up with the news and await MNRE to offer more clarifications and crisp guidelines to enact the scheme. There is a buzz that the government is planning to start the first round of bidding in a very short term.

Advantages of the PLI Scheme

It is expected to add 10,000 MW capacity of integrated solar PV manufacturing plants. It will bring about 30,000 direct and 1,20,000 indirect employment opportunities. It will create a direct investment of around ₹17,200 cr in solar PV manufacturing projects. The PLI scheme will also create an import substitution of over ₹17,500 cr every year. It will also encourage R&D for high efficiency solar PV modules. It will create a demand of ₹17,500 cr for ‘Balance of Materials’ in the upcoming five years.

But is this enough to boost Domestic Manufacturing?

This question beats up many in the solar industry as there are stats offering a story buildup. As per MNRE, India’s Solar cell and Module manufacturing capacity is 3GW and 10GW respectively. We rely almost 80% on the foreign imports to meet our local demand due to the cost variation. But the imposed BCD will now make foreign imports high in cost as well wef April, ‘22. The move will surely reduce the import dependency, but it will not be an easy path for India to become a global player in the Solar industry. It is a sure shot to boost the Indian manufacturers but there are various factors to be taken into consideration. The government also needs to offer other incentives to integrate the complete demand-supply value chain.

‘Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.’

Is the Faith in Renewable Hopeful with Budget 2021-22?

With a lot of Hope to look further in 2021 and leave behind the 2020 blues, FM Sitharam proposed the Budget 2021-22. The BSE & NSE boosts portrayed the happiness of the investors and the acceptance of the proposed budget.

Here is a quick overview of the Budget fueling growth in the Energy Sector of India with focus on renewables.

Uplift DISCOMS & DE license Electricity Distribution

Government has massively funded DISCOMs to uplift their loss-making status and upgrade the entire eco-system.

The government has dropped proposal on direct benefit transfer (DBT) of subsidy to electricity consumers and instead would first de-license the Electricity Distribution.

The consumers can select their own distribution company. However, it will not disrupt the existing licenses.

This move is intended to induce competition in electricity distribution and empower consumers to switch networks but will not disrupt the existing licenses.

In all, it will also induce fair competition and address monopoly concerns.

It will also assist DISCOMs for infrastructure creation tied to financial improvements, including prepaid smart metering, feeder separation, and up-gradation of systems.

The PLI Scheme for AtmaNirbhar Bharat

PLI stands for Production Linked Incentive Scheme that is devised to enhance the AtmaNirbhar Bharat drive.

The motto is to promote the growth of manufacturing industries to become an integral part of the global supply chain.

The government has committed Rs.1.97 lakh crores in 13 sectors and the PLI is launched to create the manufacturing global champions.

The energy sector has been dedicated with 24%, Rs.4,500 crores for ‘High Efficiency Solar PV Modules’ which will be implemented by MNRE (Ministry of New & Renewable Energy).

Considering the current scenario of solar industry, the domestic manufacturing industry has limited annual capacity of around 2,500 MW for solar PV cells and about 10,000 MW for solar PV modules.

The manufacturing too moreover depends upon imported solar PV cells, PV modules and other raw materials.

Thus, the scheme is proposed to boost the domestic manufacturing needs and further create demand for locally produced balance of raw materials like EVA, Solar Glass, Backsheet, Junction Box, etc. to augment the entire Solar Manufacturing Eco-system.

NIP Projects by sector

Basic Custom Duty Increase on Imports

  • Solar inverters from 5% to 20%
  • Solar lanterns from 5% to 15%

The custom duties are increased to combat the imports and promote the domestic manufacturing focusing on the AtmaNirbhar Bharat mission.

This did not meet the expectations of more elaborate support for RE industry and especially solar industry.

SECI & IREDA Funding

The budget has Additional capital infusion of:

  • Rs.1,000 Cr to Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI)
  • Rs.1,500 Cr to Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA)

As part of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), India targets to reduce carbon emissions intensity of its GD by 33-35% as against 2005 level.

It targets to install at least 40% of its electricity generation capacity through non-fossil sources by 2030.

The budget infusion would help the SECI & IREDA’s – the apex bodies for Indian renewables in contributing initiatives to fulfill the set ambitious targets.

SECI Funding PurposeIREDA Funding Purpose
Considering the outlay of 2020 budget, SECI has floated about 47,000 MW of capacity with an investment of Rs.2.14 lakh crore (approximately). About 8,300 MW of capacity has been commissioned and the numerous projects are under various stages of implementation.The average installation is expected to be in the range of 30-50 GW per annum, which would require annual debt capital of about one lakh crore.
It will enable SECI to float 15,000 MW of tenders on yearly basis. It will attract investment of more than Rs.60,000 crore, generate employment of 45,000 job years and reduce emissions of 28.5 million tons of CO2 per year.It will also help in financing of around 4,500 MW of RE projects worth Rs.18,000 to 19,000 crore. It will generate employment of 13,500 job years and reduce emissions of 8.55 million tons of CO2.

Capital infusion will also enable SECI to set up innovative projects of with an investment of around Rs.17,000 Cr.

The International lenders are happy to channelize their funds to India’s large RE market through IREDA. Thus, it will enable IREDA attract and keep intact with the foreign investors.

Summing Up The BUDGET 2021 for Power Sector

Only 3 times in the past the budget has followed a contraction in Indian economy. This time it’s because of a global pandemic like in other countries. The government is fully prepared to support and facilitate the economic reset.

Budget 2021 has focused on growth, investment and jobs. The renewable sector, especially solar manufacturing and related services has got the keen eye from investment prospect which will help to create jobs.

The reviews of all the investors and solar industry delegators reassure that the faith for better recovery of the declined repo rate is up and high.

PIXON – a Marwadi Group Company into Solar panel manufacturing and solar EPC installation services is hosting Solar Gandhi – Dr. Chetan Singh Solanki.

About SOLAR GANDHI

Dr. Solanki is also known as the Solar Man of India. He has authored about 100+ research publications in international journals, several books on Solar and Renewable Energy and 4 US credited patents with a few more in review.

He has bagged several awards for his work. Starting his journey from a small village with no bus connectivity yet and a primary school with just 2 classrooms now, he studied in IIT-B and further in Europe to bag the title of Doctor. With knowledge across the globe, his roots are still intact to the struggles rural areas face. This is how his journey to contribute to society began. People joined and accolades followed.

Global & National Movements BY SOLAR GANDHI

Dr. Chetan led many environmental drives in the nation like: ‘Is winter fridge band kar’ He undertook a global movement – a solar yatra to 30 countries with the mission of providing 1 million students to make their own solar lamps. This agenda with a base of Gandhian principles tagged him the title of ‘Solar Gandhi’.

He has now taken a national movement on name of Energy Swaraj Yatra 2020-30. This is a 11-years stay-and-travel in a solar bus across the country to spread Solar Energy Awareness. The motto is also to promote the solar energy adoption in context of, “By Locals for Locals”.

SOLAR GANDHI powers PIXON in his ENERGY SWARAJ YATRA

PIXON bestows the name of MARWADI GROUP and the trust people lay upon it since past 27 years.

The PIXON company manufactures solar panels with state-of-the-art technology and turnkey machinery of 400 MW line capacity. The industry is spread across 65,000 sq. m of land and has EVA film (a raw material) manufacturing line as well.

The company is proud to tag ‘Make In India’ on the solar panels, while contributing to the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan and Youth Employment post the Covid-19 blues.

Vis-à-vis, PIXON provides Solar EPC and end-to-end installation solutions. In no time, PIXON has pioneered a lot of solar projects in Gujarat. With subsidies open in all the residential, commercial and industrial sectors, the company is penetrating into the market in leaps and bounds.

As the world adheres to the solar energy revolution, PIXON envisions to globally provide efficient solar energy products & solutions. Thus, contribute and enhance the Global Climate Sustainability.

PIXON with message of “Solar is the new Green!” shall host the ENERGY SWARAJ YATRA with the message to adopt solar and “By Locals For Locals”. The Solar Gandhi himself will visit the PIXON factory, to provide his valuable insights and good wishes to the Company & its enthusiastic team.

PIXON on National Mission

After major achievement of 173 GW of renewable energy before the set target of 2022, our honorable PM Modi aims big with 450 GW target by 2030. PIXON is on the national mission to support the PM in achieving this target and addressing the climate change in an integrated, comprehensive and holistic manner.

Residential Rooftop – Active Subsidy Scheme in Gujarat

The Gujarat Government under guidance of our CM Vijaybhai Rupani launched new Gujarat Solar Policy – The SURYA Gujarat, wherein the residential rooftop solar has no bars to maximum capacity installation. Thus, opening a channel for passive income via net-metering. The subsidy scheme is also active providing upto 40% benefits for residents. The motto is to reduce the unit rate and overall cost of electricity.

Net-metering

Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid.

Understanding the Flow

Raj installs Solar PV System at his factory rooftop. He uses the energy consumed by his factory. The extra electricity is sent on grid. He is credited for it for later use.

Profit to Raj based on Net-metering

Raj installs solar power plant at his factory that generates 1000 units. He uses those 1000 units over the month.Assuming the tariff rate of Raj’s locality as Rs.7.50, he saves Rs.7,500 (1000 units* Rs.7.50/unit).

However, this would be the ideal condition. Considering the system cost, Raj will get LCOE* at Rs.1.50/unit, much less than what government sells.

Profit to DISCOM/ Government from Net-metering

On this scheme, the government just charges nominal regulatory fees to the solar consumers and installers. The Government generated electricity and DISCOMS face the reduced profit margins for same.

    Briefing the Net-metering

  • The charges are applicable on the Solar units traded between the consumer and the grid. The major government benefit is the RPO (Renewable Power Obligation).
  • Reduces the transmission losses of electricity generation and usage in the entire cycle.
  • The electricity is consumed first and extra is credited to the grid. The consumer has access to these credited units for a billing-cycle of up to a year/ based on policy.
  • It is a very profitable model for consumers.
  • The Government and DISCOMs profit margins are affected.
  • The consumer gets the project payback within 3-4 years.

Gross-metering

In gross metering, a consumer is compensated at a fixed feed-in-tariff for the total number of units of solar energy generated and fed into the grid. The consumer then pays the DISCOM at a retail supply tariff for the solar power consumed.

Understanding the Flow

Raj installs Solar PV System at his factory rooftop. The entire energy generated is sold to the grid at a predefined unit rate defined by the government. The regular electricity consumption is taken from the grid and billed as usual.

Profit to Raj based on Gross-metering

Continuing the example of Raj and considering the regular billing mechanism:On consumption of 1000 units, Raj would pay Rs.7500 (Rs.7.50/unit*1000 units) as his bill. Raj installs solar power plant at his factory that generates 1000 units. As per the gross-metering concept, the entire electricity is sold to the grid at unit rate of Rs.3.00/unit. Thus, Rs.3000 (1000 units*Rs.3.00/unit) becomes the ideal saving of the consumer excluding the project cost. However, this would be the ideal condition. Considering the system cost, Raj will get LCOE at Rs.5.50/unit.

Profit to Raj based on Banking Charges

On this scheme, the government charges regulatory fees to the solar consumers and installers. The Government also gets costing benefits on generated solar units by the consumers. But, it comes with a big question mark from the CNI perspective, considering the solar PV system adoption and installation won’t be considerable.

    Briefing the Gross-metering

  • The charges are applicable on the Solar units generate by the consumer.
  • The entire solar electricity is credited to the grid. The consumer is billed normally for electricity consumption.
  • It is a very profitable model for Government & DISCOMS.
  • The consumer gets the project payback within 8-10 years, much more as compared to 3-4 years of the net-metering.
  • The CNI industries production cost shall increase, hindering the “Made in India” initiative and drive. There are chances that the existing companies might have to shut down, leaving several people jobless.

Banking Charges – the best alternate to Gross-metering

The Disparity of Net-metering and Gross-metering to benefit the consumers and the government both is much visible and has caught the limelight.

BANKING CHARGES clause can help attain this balance. As per the clause, the consumer is entitled to pay banking charges to government instead of completely selling it to the government. The banking charges are almost half the charges of tariff-feed-in of gross metering making it a more viable option for both the consumers and DISCOM.

Profit to Raj based on Banking Charges

On consumption of 1000 units, Raj would pay Rs.7500 (Rs.7.50/unit*1000 units) as his bill.Raj installs solar power plant at his factory that generates 1000 units.As per the banking charges concept, the consumers might have to pay banking charges on generated amount at rate of about Rs.1.50/unit. The net banking charge, Raj has to pay is Rs.1500(1000 units*Rs.1.50/unit).The electricity cost to Mr. Raj otherwise would have been Rs.7500(Rs.7.50*1000 units). But now he has to pay the bill with banking charges. Thus, the net saving for Raj is Rs.6000 (Rs.7500 – Rs.1500).However, this would be the ideal condition. Considering the system cost, Raj will get LCOE at Rs.3.00/unit.

Profit to DISCOM/Government from Banking Charges

The major benefit to government is of RPO & Transmission loss saving. Moreover, it gets additional amount of Rs.1.50/unit of solar as permanent source of income.

Briefing the Banking Charges Policy

Banking charges is much viable and profitable option for both the consumers and the DISCOM or government entities, over the gross metering.The flow of solar units trade and the definition of Banking charges is not provided in the policy

PIXON’s take to support the Banking Charges clause of the Gujarat Power Policy 2021

The Net-metering, applicable up to 10kW of systems has been a bang-on model accepted by the people with bumper perks and benefits. Removal of capacity restriction has opened doors for people to have a new source of income generation.

The Gross-metering, applicable above 10kW of PV system has arouse a lot of debates in the Solar Industry of India. The saving margin and project payback are reduced and lengthened to greater figures respectively.

The Banking Charges clause instead of Gross-metering has been pitched by the Gujarat State government in their power policy which seems to be a better model for both – the consumers and the DISCOMS or government entities.

PIXON supports and talks in the favor of the Gujarat Solar Power Policy that talks of Banking charges over the gross-metering implication. However, a lot of clarity is still required for smooth conduct. Probably, what everybody is looking for in the upcoming Implementation Policy (for Gujarat at least).

PARAMETERNET-METERINGBANKING CHARGESGROSS_METERING
ObjectiveSelf-consumption of electricityNot definedElectricity sale to utility
ApplicableUpton 10kWBeyond 10kWBeyond 10kW
Tariff ArrangementNo payment by utility for electricity injected into the grid, beyond a limitNot defined PPA with the utility where utility to pay a per PPA price
Financial BurdenGovernment bears the burden in form of Electricity sell/ incentive/subsidyMinimum burden to both CNI and UtilityCost borne by utility and then passed through to the consumer
Energy AccountingMetering arrangement to measure generation as well as consumptionNot definedMetering arrangement to measure the generation only
BeneficiaryAssist consumer directly to reduce its electricity billingHealthy balance of charges & duty for both CNI & UtilityAssist utility in meeting solar RPO compliance
Project SelectionFirst-cum-first basisFixed tariff Competitive bidding
Utility’s ConcernLoss of revenue for utility – reduced grid consumption by the consumersUtility sustains its financial health with Banking ChargesNot keen on signing PPA with small rooftop projects – higher FiT & administrative burden
Developer’s ConcernLess incentives may impact project viability for certain consumer segmentsLess incentives may impact project viability for certain consumer segments Grid unavailability to impact revenue
Net ideal savings based on Raj’s Example7,500 (in INR)6,000 (in INR)3,000 (in INR)
LCOE based on Raj’s ExampleRs.1.50/unit (for about 25 years)Rs.3.00/unit (for about 25 years)Rs.5.50/unit (for about 25 years)

*LCOE: Levelized Cost of Energy

Equipment needed for Setup

  • Solar panels
  • Mounting Structure
  • Inverter
  • Electrical Panel with switches & circuit breakers
  • DC & AC Electric cables
  • Power Meter

With all the technology, we can finally have an electricity power plant on top of the house. All the required equipment, to setup a Solar PV System at top of your house or for acre-spread power station are as discussed further.

1. Solar Panels

Solar panels are electronic devices that convert light energy of thesun into electricity. Used in satellites for decades, solar panels are now made viable economically for masses to adopt and use it. All the solar panels fit into three major categories:

  • Mono-crystalline
  • Poly-crystalline
  • Thin-film

Mono-crystalline Panels

Overview

Made from single silicon cells, Mono-panels are ideal for premium market that seek long-lasting power efficient PV system like solar farms.

Pros
  • Have highest efficiency rates of up to 22 % with output power range of 350 – 380 Watts.
  • Space-efficient.
  • High temperature variation tolerance.
Cons
  • High-cost.

Polycrystalline Panels

Overview

Made from multiple silicon cells, poly-panels are ideal for residential setups and cost conducive applications.

Pros
  • Reaching the efficiency standards of Mono panels with power range 315 – 345 Watts.
  • Simple and cost-friendly manufacturing process.
Cons
  • Require more space.
  • Efficiency range in 14-16 %.
  • Temperature fluctuations shall affect the output.

Thin Film Panels

Overview

Most ideal for specific applications only like electronic powering circuits, home-light applications, etc.

Pros
  • Simple and cost-friendly manufacturing process.
  • Very flexible.
  • Less affected by shade and temperature changes.
Cons
  • Require more space and safety measures.
  • Have less life-span and efficiency (in range of 6-10 %).

Moreover, the thin films have lost their space in PV systems and are preferably used in solar products like lamps, portable chargers etc. The mono and poly panels have widespread use and are getting more efficient with all the research and advancements each day.

2. Mounting Structure

Generally made of steel or aluminium, mounting structures are needed for panels’ installation as a support structure for following reasons:

  • Raise from the ground to provide space for cabling.
  • Combat water clogging.
  • Tilt panels at an optimal angle to receive maximum sunlight.

Lightweight, cost-efficient and low or no maintenance structures are preferable.

There are three major types of mounting structures: Single pole, Rooftop Mounting/Double Pole, Tin Shade.

Single Pole

Easiest and straightforward type of solar installation.

Need a lot of un-used space.

Ideal for limited commercial and agricultural installations.

Rooftop Mounting or Double Pole

Used anywhere in yard, field, or residential rooftops.

Needs dedicated space.

The height can be raised to use the space below.

Tin Shade

These mounting structures are ideal for slanting rooftops.A variety of construct designs options are available based on the roof material and type.

Weight balancing and roof strength are considerable parameters for choice of mounting construct.

  • Standard Rails
  • Rail-less
  • Shared-Rails
  • Non-penetrating System for weight balance.

Ballasts

Systems onunused flat roofs are ballasted at an optimal angle by using simple ballast structures.

These can be steel, aluminium or plastic and polymerized structures.

The type of mounting structure one should prefer for a given PV system moreover depends on the site of installation and its pre and post installation usage.

Aluminium Triangular Structure

3. Inverters

There are three major types of solar inverters: central inverters, power optimizer-based systems, and micro-inverters.

String Inverters

Ideal for roofs:
  • Straight and continuous rooftops
  • Constant sunshine throughout the day
How does it work?

A single central inverter will efficiently convert the DC electricity produced by panels to AC electricity. In case of huge power plants, the panels are connected into string-sets to a string inverter, which are further connected to a single central inverter.

Pros
  • The inverter can be placed in-house thus preventing it from harsh weather conditions like heat, snow, rains, etc.
  • Might need low maintenance.
Cons
  • The inverters do not provide panel-level optimization. The string of solar panels can produce as much electricity as its least efficient panel. Thus, even if there is break-down or shading in one panel, the entire system output goes down.
  • The DC current has to travel all the way to the inverter. Loose connections might cause arcing and lead to fire outbreak.
Costing

Central and string inverters are a least expensive inverter option.

Micro-inverters

Ideal for roofs:
  • complex rooftops
  • rooftops that experience partial or complete shading during the day
How does it work?

A micro-inverter converts the electricity from DC to AC right at the panel. Which means, each panel has its own micro-inverter attached to it.

Pros
  • Cancel out the negative impact of partial or complete shading.
  • Provides for maximum efficiency of the system setup.
  • Monitoring performance of individual panels is feasible.
  • Reduced risk of arcing as DC current path is short and thus, less chances of fire.
Cons
  • The inverters are to be connected to each panel of the setup, thus cost increases significantly.
  • The circuit setup is prone to fluctuating whether conditions, thus, the functionality might go down post 5-6 years.
Costing

Since we need a micro-inverter with each panel, the costing is ought to be higher based on the PV system size. However, the prices are certainly decreasing with tech advancements and demand.

Power Optimized Inverters

Ideal for roofs:
  • complex rooftops
  • rooftops that experience partial or complete shading during the day
How does it work?

Power Optimized inverters working is similar to that of micro-inverters. The only difference is that they condition the DC electricity and send it to String or Central Inverter. It is a more cost-efficient option than micro-inverter.

Pros
  • Cancel out the negative impact of partial or complete shading.
  • Provides for maximum efficiency of the system setup.
Cons
  • The DC current has to travel all the way to the inverter. Loose connections might cause arcing and lead to fire outbreak.
Costing

The power optimizers are additional components for each panel apart from the string inverter. These are costliest of all the inverters but certainly worth for the system efficiency enhancement.

However, the efficiency and warranty should be key considerable parameters while choosing an optimal inverter for your solar system.

4. Electrical Panel with Switches & Circuit Breakers

The electrical panel with switches and circuit breakers are used to protect all the electronic equipment against various electrical faults and hazards like:

  • Earth faults
  • Short-circuit
  • Over-current
  • Over-voltage

The requirement may vary based on the PV system capacity. There might be PV designs wherein, we would just not need the system at all.

5. DC & AC Electric Cables

AC current flows through outer surface due to ‘Skin Effect’. AC cable needs Multi-stranded Copper or Aluminium Conductor bunch for their efficient flow of current.

Whereas DC current flows throughout the whole cross section diameter of conductor. So DC cable needs Single Strand.

The quantity of required cables may vary based on the inverter setup you choose for your PV system, as discussed before.

6. Power Meter

The use of meters in this case differs from State to State.

Some states may require only one meter that reads the ‘net’ energy consumed by the system owner.

However, few other states may require two meters – one to measure solar energy generation and the second to measure the units consumed from the utility grid.