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Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Get ready for the Net Metered Solar PV System

Rapidly depleting fossil fuel reserves, higher energy demands, ever increasing global pollution- the present scenario has made it essential for us to look for other sources of energy. Solar PV energy has emerged as a convenient, pollution free and mature solution to this problem.

In India, the solar PV system has generated much curiosity among the common people about its use, the subsidies granted by various government agencies, the business opportunities in solar industry etc. It has created an atmosphere of awareness among the masses. It will promote de-centralized electricity generation thereby reducing the transmission and distribution losses, which is significantly high in the country.   
The state of Madhya Pradesh is bestowed with high solar radiation (5.5 kWh/m2/day on an average) and around 300 days of clear sunny day per annum. The state has a proposed Solar PV capacity addition target of 2200 MWp by 2022. The Madhya Pradesh Solar Policy 2012 has given the much needed thrust for installation of grid connected Solar PV projects. 

The most recent and much talked about development that has caught the attention of the people is the Net-metering. The state policy for ‘Net metering based solar applications: 2015’ has been structured so as to promote generation and self consumption of energy generated from solar PV system by individuals. Now let us see what the net metered solar PV system is all about.

What is Net-Metering or Net-metered solar PV system?

In the grid connected system, the solar PV system is installed at the roof top or within the premises of the consumer (existing electrical energy user). The power produced by solar PV system will be used by the consumers for their own use. The energy produced in excess of the consumer’s requirement could be injected into the utility’s LT network. In case the energy need of the building is more than that generated by the solar PV system, then the required additional energy will be drawn from the LT lines.

A bi-directional or import-export energy meter has to be installed for keeping the energy record. The electrical energy thus exported could be adjusted against the import by the consumer from the utility network. Such type of solar PV system is known as ‘Net metered Solar PV system’. The consumer, after settlement of energy within the settlement period, shall pay for the net energy purchased by him/her from the utility.

The concept seems to be good, but the question arises is who can install the net metered solar PV system?  

Who can apply for Net-metered solar PV system (Eligibility Criteria)?

All categories of electrical consumers who have installed solar PV system in their premises, or are willing to install, to balance part or all of their electrical energy needs are eligible for ‘net metering’ Solar PV scheme. The solar PV system can be either self owned or third party owned.  

Every activity or installation in which any government organization is involved, has its own set of sanction procedures. Now the question is, where the interested party can apply and what are the approval procedure? 
What is the Approval Procedure?

The eligible consumer is required to fill and submit an on-line application form along with the necessary fee and documents such as current electricity bill. The form is available at the MP Urja Vikas Nigam (MPUVN) and the Distribution Companies (DISCOM) website.

Once the solar PV beneficiary (a person who is willing to install the solar PV system at his/ her own premises) applies for "Net metered" solar PV system at his premises along with the registration fee of 1000 INR (as on May 2017), the Discom official shall visit the said premises for verifying the technical feasibility for grid connection of the proposed Solar PV system. They will inspect the available LT network, in case the application is for residential use. The available capacity of the concerned distribution transformer should also be ascertained before giving the sanction. The applications are to be handled on first come first serve basis. As per current rules, the total capacity of grid tie solar PV system on any distribution transformer cannot exceed 30% of the transformer's kVA capacity. The approval procedure is supposed to take nearly 30 days from the date of application.

The eligible consumers have to complete the installation of the approved Solar PV system within 3 months from the date of approval by DISCOM, otherwise the sanction will be cancelled.

This solar PV system is supposed to feed back the extra energy produced to the grid, means you are connecting your solar PV to the utility grid. For this you certainly have to follow a set of safety and technical rules and regulations. What are these rules and regulations?  

What are the safety and technical points of the system?

The Solar PV system is expected to have a lifespan of 25 years. Also the system is to be grid tied; hence utmost care should be taken during the installation process so as to ensure that every safety and technical standards are followed. 

The interconnection with the LT network shall be made as per the technical standards for “connectivity of distributed generation resources regulations” notified by Central Regulatory Authority (CEA). Similarly, metering arrangements should confirm to MP Electricity Regulatory Commission (MPERC) “Grid connected Net metering Regulations 2014” and subsequent amendments thereof and CEA Regulation 2006 for the “Installation and Operation of meters”.   

One of the most important and typical safety requirement of Net- metered or Grid-Tie solar PV system is the "anti-islanding" feature. In this feature it is mandatory that the grid-tie solar system must be shut down automatically in case of grid failure so as to ensure that the associated utility network and equipments are safe to work on. This safety feature is essentially incorporated in the grid-tie inverter. 

MPUVN ltd., New and Renewable Energy department, Government of Madhya Pradesh, shall be the nodal agency for Net-metering based Solar PV systems in the state. To ensure quality work the consumer has to get the installation work done by developers/facilitators empanelled with the MPUVN.

Is there any tax benefit or financial assistance for the system?

Installation of Solar PV systems under the policy shall be exempted from wheeling, cross-subsidy and open access charges. The energy generated from the solar PV system shall be exempted from electricity duty and cess. All eligible consumers can avail the financial assistance from Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) as per the applicable schemes. The equipments for the solar PV system under this policy shall be exempted from VAT and entry tax.    

Even after the steep growth in this sector if you have not installed a roof top solar PV system at your house, it is high time now to awaken from your slumber and acknowledge the technology; at least for the sake of your future generation.