The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Kerala Solar Energy Policy aimed at mainstreaming the use of solar energy in the energy mix of the State.

The policy proposes to increase the installed capacity in the solar sector to 500 MW by 2017 and 2,500 MW by 2030. Various incentives are proposed to promote the use of solar energy.

The plans include promotion of offsite generation at locations such as canals, reservoirs, wastelands and quarries besides off-shore generating plants.

Off-grid applications

Off-grid solar applications shall be promoted for replacing diesel-based generator sets. Interventions will also be made for establishing rooftop system at demand points or consumer premises and promotion of conversion of existing inverter installation to solar power.

The State will also promote solar water heating system by making its use mandatory in industrial buildings, hospitals, hotels, housing complexes, hostels, barracks and jails, guesthouses, and similar buildings. It will also promote solar steam systems for wider applications such as community cooking, process industries and laundries, and industrial processes requiring steam.

Use of solar power and water heater will be made mandatory for residential flats, buildings with floor area of more than 2,000 sq ft.

For off-grid systems, the policy seeks to ensure bank finance at attractive interest rates and provide generation-based incentives. For grid-connected systems, the government itself will set an example by setting up generation facilities in public buildings. The policy urges all concerned to make use of rooftop and premises to install solar plants to match maximum demand of the offices within two years.

For grid-connected systems in non-government buildings and premises, incentives will be provided on the basis of net metering, feed-in-tariff, and renewal energy certificate mechanism.

Since large-scale absorption of solar power into the system is impossible without sufficient storage, a programme for exploring and developing pumped storage schemes will be promoted.

For evolving safety and quality standards, capability of academic institutions both within and outside the country will be leveraged. The policy also proposes licensing for manufacturers and all solar photovoltaic systems to be installed in the State. Solar procurement obligation will be mandated for commercial consumers with more than 20kVA of connected load.

Regulatory framework

The policy will be extended to other industrial consumers in a phased manner. At a later stage, similar conditions will also become applicable for high consuming domestic consumers. The legal and regulatory framework that will come into force following implementation of the policy is to mandate 100 litres solar water heater and 500 W solar photovoltaic systems for domestic building with floor area of between 2,000 sq ft to 3,000 sq ft.

All buildings above 3,000 sq ft will have to install a 100-litre solar water heater and at least 1,000 W solar photovoltaic system. In case of residential flats and apartments, five per cent of the energy usage for common amenities should be from solar power.

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