The Delhi government has installed solar panels on the roofs of 150 schools; similar projects in Rajasthan and Haryana have yet to begin.
In 2020, the government of Delhi will install solar panels on the roofs of 150 school buildings as part of a federal programme. By 2025, the government intends to create 2,000 megawatts (MW) of solar energy. The governments of Rajasthan and Haryana decided to follow suit. Down to Earth analysed the initiatives and orders issued by the separate governments and discovered that the project got off to a good start in Delhi but was plagued by accountability and responsibility problems in Rajasthan and Haryana.
Solar rooftop model in Delhi
In the nation's capital, rooftop solar (RTS) developers were picked through competitive bidding. The project employed the zero-investment Renewable Energy Service Company (RESCO) model, which supplies energy to consumers from renewable energy sources.
The federal government paid a quarter of the entire project cost upon completion.
Schools in Delhi purchase electricity from RESCO developers at a rate of Rs 3.13 per kilowatt-hour, which is 65 percent lower than DISCOMs.
During non-working days, these schools can sell any excess electricity generation to the DISCOMs (BSES or NDPL) for Rs 5.65 per kilowatt-hour.
A RESCO developer for 15 such schools, stated that unlike other states scrambling to identify government establishments for the project, the Delhi government floated a pre-approved bid that assisted in the installation of solar rooftops during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
It stated that it was "remotely monitoring the assets and their daily revenue generating so that the developer and schools do not miss any revenue generation opportunities."
The developers claim that the project's capacity to generate 21.5 MW will help conserve about 26,412 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually. The majority of these institutions have an underused, shadow-free terrace that is suitable for RTS and supplying their daytime electrical demands.
West Vinod Nagar (195 kilowatts peak), Rohini (170 kWp), Rouse Avenue (150 kWp), East Vinod Nagar (146 kWp), and Rajokari (127 kWp) have the greatest rooftop solar plants.
The money saved on electricity costs can be invested in education, infrastructure development, and raising knowledge about renewable energy options.
Solar energy in schools in Rajasthan and Haryana
The Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission (RERC), the state's power regulator, issued an order on March 25, 2021, mandating the installation of solar panels and battery storage at government schools without access to electricity.
The state government or corporations, which may or may not be identified as obligated organisations for complying with their renewable purchase requirement stipulated by the regulations issued by the commission under the Electricity Act, 2003, can support solar power systems with integrated battery storage.
The aforementioned modes are initially intended for places where the grid is unavailable and grid extension is costly for DISCOMs. Once the grid reaches certain schools, the current RTS can be transformed into a net-metering arrangement if the school so requests.
According to the ruling, the state department responsible for the aforementioned conversions is responsible for the associated costs.
The DISCOM is the central agency responsible for coordinating, monitoring, and installing solar power systems at specified locations in recognised areas of supply. The agency is responsible for developing an adequate procedure in this regard, the document noted.
It would determine suitable places in conjunction with state governments. From the identification phase to installation, all concerned parties will coordinate with the nodal agency.
However, a top official from Jaipur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd stated that RERC had informed them of the directive, but no meaningful efforts have been done in that regard as of yet.
In 2018, the government of Haryana also intended to deploy solar rooftop systems in government schools. However, the Haryana Department of New and Renewable Energy stated that the education department was responsible for the same.
According to directives from the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the programme for grid-connected solar power plants was passed to DISCOMS, he said (Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam and Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam).
The Delhi-based think tank Centre for Science and Environment attempted to communicate with the DISCOMS and education department, but received no answer.
Schools are in limbo due to a lack of clarity over the program's leadership.
The epidemic has taught us the value of anticipating the unexpected. Whether the students are in the classroom or the schools are operating as a quarantine facility, our community requires a steady power supply.
Such programmes can be reproduced in other states with clear roles and the backing of the government, as demonstrated by Delhi. This may assist India in reaching its rooftop solar target of 40 GW by 2022.
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