MNRE Releases Draft Guidelines for Development of Decentralized Solar Plants

The underlying objective of the scheme is to provide a facilitative framework for the development of decentralized solar plants in the country. And, will be applicable for procurement of solar power by Discoms from such plants connected to rural distribution sub-stations of 33/11 kV, 66/11 kV and 110/11 kV in their area of jurisdiction

September 27, 2019. By News Bureau

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has announced that it has released the draft guidelines for the development of decentralized solar power plants with the goal to promote the decentralized use of solar energy and availability of affordable and reliable solar power in the rural areas.

The draft has been opened to stakeholders to submit their recommendations and remarks or views on the guidelines by October 11, 2019.

At the moment Discoms are providing power to agriculture loads either free or at highly subsidized tariff. With average T&D losses for a rural feeder being around 30 percent, the average cost of power purchased by a Discom to deliver one unit of power to agriculture consumer is over Rs 6 per unit.

If the solar power is generated locally and fed in to the 33/11 kV substation, it will not only save the cost to Discoms but also improve the power quality at the tail end of the rural feeder and thus improving the performance of electrical equipment and appliance connected to rural feeders which will also result in improved energy efficiency.

In order to tackle this issue with the available solution, the ministry felt a need to provide facilitative guidelines for the development of decentralized solar power plants so that same is implemented by all DISCOMs across the country.

In its draft, the ministry highlighted that there are around 40,000 numbers of 33/11 kV sub-stations in the rural areas. Even if only 1 MW solar power is connected to each of this sub-station, a capacity of 40 GW solar would be added that will save around 26 BU annually against T&D losses, which is worth Rs 9000 crore to Discoms. In addition, there are 66/11 kV and 110/11 kV substations which can also act as anchor points for connecting small solar power generating plants.

The underlying objective of the scheme is to provide a facilitative framework for the development of decentralized solar plants in the country. And, will be applicable for procurement of solar power by Discoms from such plants connected to rural distribution sub-stations of 33/11 kV, 66/11 kV and 110/11 kV in their area of jurisdiction.

The draft mentions that the distribution companies will notify substation-wise solar power capacity which can be injected in a rural distribution substation. Such capacities may be calculated based on the average energy or load requirement during the daytime. As per the implementation arrangement, the Discom may decide the capacity of the solar project permitted to be set up for the connection to the grid.

“However, DISCOMs need not be constrained by the provisions of the KUSUM scheme and may decide the size and distance of the power project allowed to be connected and feed power into the grid. The solar power projects may be set up on any land, including agricultural lands by any individual or cooperative, or company,” states the MNRE.

The draft states that the DISCOM will provide connectivity at the substation and will have to ensure ‘must-run’ status to the solar projects by keeping the feeders ‘On’ during the sunshine hours of the day.

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