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Centre offers incentives for domestic use of solar power

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Harnessing solar energy may address the energy problems in rural areas.
Harnessing solar energy may address the energy problems in rural areas.

R. Sairam

MADURAI: Solar power generation units no longer remain in the sole domain of industries as a new scheme of the Central Government offers generous incentives to promote its domestic use.

The Rooftop Power and Stand alone Small Grid-connected Power Plant (RPSSGP) scheme will provide Rs.4.5 lakh in subsidy, which is more than half the total estimated cost of Rs.8 lakh needed to install a 5 kilowatt solar plant in houses. This unit would power all appliances including heavy power consumers such as air-conditioners.

The Centre would also arrange for loans to cover the remaining costs, S.E.S. Syed Ahamed, Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA) Deputy General Manager of Madurai Region, told The Hindu here on Sunday.

The TEDA is the nodal agency for implementing the project in the State. Guidelines for this scheme were issued on March 12. The Madurai Region of TEDA covers 16 districts of south and central Tamil Nadu.

Incentives increased

The scheme would also cover half the cost of installing a solar water heater by individuals. This subsidy was confined to industry and was not available to individuals earlier.

Further, the subsidy for solar cookers has been increased by 20 per cent to 60 per cent at present, he said.

The Centre has also increased the incentives offered to industry and solar power developers to attract youngsters to the sector and spread the technology. While 33 kilovolt was earlier minimum to supply power to State Electricity Boards (SEB), now either 11 KV or 22 KV would suffice for which the number of grid lines available are higher, informed Mr. Syed.

The subsidy component for a 100 kilowatt rooftop solar power plant has been increased from 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the total capital. A developer would get nearly Rs.1 crore of the total Rs.2.5 crore needed at present, he said.

Another very attractive concession offered was that of increasing the duration of the generation-based incentive of Rs.18.44 per unit provided by the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy for increasing power supply to SEBs, Mr. Syed said.

While the earlier norms provided the incentive only for the initial five years, now it would cover the entire tenure of the power purchase agreement of the solar power plant with the SEBs, which is usually 25 years.

The Centre has also undertaken to provide soft refinance options, he said.

The total nation-wide target under this RPSSGP scheme, which is operation till 2013, was 100 megawatt. The beneficiaries would be chosen on a ‘first-come first-serve' basis and the registration would be done between May 1 and June 30, he said.

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