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Solar 101: Guide to going solar in India

In my journey to go solar, I realized that people who are willing to go solar have to go through the hassle of figuring out a lot of formalities. I am writing this article detailing the basics of an on-grid solar plant and how you can go about getting your rooftop solar like I did :

  • Determining capacity as per your requirements — The best way to check this is by analysing your consumption history over the year. Do this either by keeping a track or logging onto your discom's website. In case of TATA power, their consumer portal keeps a record of around 2 years of consumption. I had a peak consumption of around 1200-1300 units during summers and around 250-300 units in winters. To figure out the size of solar array you need, you should check the average units you consume over the year. In Delhi, is it quite sunny for around 7 months of the year which led to my average consumption of 785 units for past one year.

Also, on an average 1kW solar array generates on an average 4-5 units a day. Obviously, there are variations if there is inclement weather or outright sunny. Here's a graph showing monthly units generated from a 5kW solar plant:

The average generation over the year turns out to be 616 units. Different discoms have different policies on how they reimburse you if you generate more units that you consume. However, it is better to go for a system which is around 80% of your sanctioned load and meets the same proportion of your average demand.

  • Subsidies — Subsidies are determined by Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) and state governments. Subsidies are given over the benchmarks costs set by MNRE - these benchmark costs vary by state. Please note, these benchmark costs include installation charges, fees, taxes etc. A quick search on google will land you on MNRE's latest circular or notification. For instance, benchmark costs for year 2019-2020 are as follows (Source: MNRE)

Before subsidy, a 5kW plant will cost INR 2.70Lakh (54 * 1000 * 5). Government as per its various phases of its plans rolls our subsidy to increase the uptake of solar by consumers. The latest notification of MNRE's website outlines the subsidies provided by them:

In Delhi, there is an upfront subsidy of 30% provided by IPGCL on a first come first serve basis. Under this, the consumer needs to pay the subsidized amount instead of getting subsidy after the installation. Any state wise policy supersedes the subsidy provided by MNRE as state nodal agencies issues tenders for vendors to get themselves empanelled. For more details on subsidy by state please refer to this website.