Maharashtra’s plan on solar & renewable energy

From ET Realty

NAGPUR: The Maharashtra government has decided to make solar water heaters compulsory for all buildings in future in an effort to promote renewable energy. The state government will direct municipal bodies to change their development control rules (DCR) for the purpose. The state cabinet cleared the renewable energy policy on Monday.

After setting an ambitious target of generating 14,400MW from renewable energy sources in on-grid mode, the government has now decided to promote renewable energy in off-grid mode too. It entails an investment of about 2,682 crore in solar pumps, biogas power plants, solar cookers, solar water heaters, etc over next five years. Government will subsidize all these with some subsidy going to non-government players too. The total saving in power through this policy is expected to be in the range of 500MW.

The government move has been welcomed by builders but with reservations. Builder TS Renu said while it was good from environment point of view, lower floors in a high rise building had difficulty getting hot water from solar heaters. The equipment though is not very costly. Milind Umap, a dealer, said that a family of four would have to spend only 12,000 for a heater.

These heaters will be installed on government and private buildings and also given to private persons. The target for government as well as private buildings is 50,000 square metres while it is 2,000 square metres for citizens. The target for five years is to cover over 5 lakh square metres space and produce about 320 lakh litres hot water daily. Two villages located in remote areas will also be chosen on pilot basis for meeting complete energy requirement through solar.

The government will appoint a panel of experts as consultant to guide, check the viability of the project and to give approval. The government also plans to start regional offices of Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA) in Aurangabad for Marathwada region, Nagpur for Vidarbha, Pune for western Maharashtra and Mumbai.

MSEDCL has already announced its grid connected solar roof top generation policy. The government has now set a target of generating 200 MW through off-grid solar units on roof tops as well as on ground. The targets for government buildings is 30 MW per year and 10 MW per year for non-government buildings. A thousand buildings each will be covered under the two categories every year.

The government has also decided to distribute solar pumps that drive small water supply schemes. Only villages having population less than 5,000 will be eligible for this. Total 2,000 such pumps will be installed every year.

Solar cookers will be supplied to government hostels, training institutes with residential facilties, etc. Selected private institutes of similar kind will also be included in the project. The target for government buildings is 20,000 square metres space every year with minimum space for a device being 16 square metres. The target for private buildings is 10,000 square metres.

Biogas is another renewable energy source that government wants to harness but on a far smaller scale. The target is 800KW every year. Biogas will be generated from cow dung and muncipal solid waste. Production of biofertilizer will be clubbed with the former for helping the farmers.

While the new initiative of the government is welcome, implementation of the earlier schemes has not been very encouraging. Energy minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule had decided to buy 10,000 solar agricultural pumps but chief minister Devendra Fadnavis stayed the tender because of huge difference in price of pumps compared to Gujarat. The grid connected solar roof top generation applications are not being processed as MSEDCL head office was yet to finalize the specifications of net meter.

OFF-GRID POLICY IN A NUTSHELL

* Solar water heaters mandatory for all new buildings. Changes in DCR soon

* Solar panels will be installed on government and private buildings to generate 200 MW in five years

* Solar cookers will be provided to hostels, training institutes, etc, government as well as private

* Water supply schemes of small villages to be driven by solar power

* Biogas power plants based on cow dung and municipal solid waste (MSW) to be promoted

SUBSIDY QUANTUM:

Solar Water heater panel:

For government buildings: 100%

For private buildings: average 20%

For personal benefit: Average 46%

Rooftop power generation unit:

For government buildings: 100%

For private buildings: 20%

Water supply solar pump (under public water supply scheme): 100%

Solar steam cooking panel:

Government agency: 100%

For private buildings: average 15%

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