Ricans India

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Solar Power industry in India is gaining more and more prominence with each passing day. The domestic/off-grid industry is picking up speed too. Owing to the queries we are receiving regarding the various issues pertaining to Solar Power Plant setup, we thought it would be a great idea to put together a bunch of questions and answer the same. We shall keeping adding to the list as we keep receiving more queries. So, here are the most Frequently Asked Questions and our answers for the same. Do let us know in case you would like us to answer any more questions. Also, kindly point out any inaccuracies/mistakes that you may find here so that we can correct the same for the benefit of everyone.

A. Rooftop PV

1 kW rooftop system generally requires 100 Square Feet ( 10 sq. metres ) of flat, shadow-free area (preferably south-facing). Actual sizing, however, depends also on local factors of solar radiation and weather conditions and shape of the roof.

There are three major components of grid-tie solar installation: solar panels, grid-tie solar inverter and bidirectional meter. When sunlight falls on solar panels, they generate DC electricity. This electricity goes to grid-tie solar inverter where it gets converted into usable AC electricity. It then enters the main power supply of the building and powers all connected electrical load. Surplus solar energy generated is fed back to the grid via bi-directional meter which helps keep track of electricity taken from the grid and fed back to it.

As the name suggests, grid-tie solar inverters are connected to the grid and cannot work without the grid. When the grid fails, system also fails to generate any electricity. This is a security measure and the inverter shuts off to protect any line man working when the power is cut.

Areas that get good and reliable power supply, but expensive electricity bill should go for grid-tie solar. Grid-tie solar is particularly good for establishments that function during the day such as schools and offices because they operate during the sunshine hours. They can generate and use all the electricity they need with grid-tie solar. States where net-metering policy has been implemented should also think about grid-tie solar because they can get paid for selling solar electricity back to the grid.

A typical off-grid solar installation consists of solar panels, solar inverter, charge controller and battery. When sunlight falls on solar panels, they generate DC electricity. This goes to the inverter to get converted into usable AC electricity to power the connected load. Surplus DC gets stored in battery for future use. The solar inverter has an inbuilt solar charge controller which is connected to the battery. It makes sure that right amount of voltage and current are delivered to charge the battery. Solar panels can sometime generate very high amount of voltage which can be harmful for the battery. They also prevent backflow of current from battery to solar panel during nighttime.

The major difference that between the two is that in grid-tie solar installation there is no battery so you can’t store surplus energy for future use. However, with the grid-tie solar installation you get to sell surplus solar energy back to the grid and get paid for it. We have written a simple blog to explain the key difference.

There are three ways of calculating solar savings.
1) Your solar inverter should tell you the units of electricity the system generated in a day. For example, if your 4kw solar system generated 16 units of electricity in a day and each unit of electricity costs Rs. 7 then you made Rs. 112 worth of electricity in day. If you multiply that with 365 you get Rs. 40,880 which is your annual savings from solar.
2) You can also compare the cost of solar to cost of running a diesel generator. A 10kva diesel generator consumes 1.5 litres of diesel every hour. If you live in an area that gets regular long powercuts of 10 hours then you will end of spending nearly 22,500 per month on diesel as diesel costs between Rs.50-60. Whereas, a 10kw off-grid solar installation would cost much less. You will be able to recover the cost of solar installation just 5 years if you compare it with using diesel generators.
3) In the case of grid-tie solar, you can also calculate the units of solar electricity you sell to the Government through bi-directional meter. For example, in Bangalore, the electricity board pays more than Rs. 9 for every unit of electricity.
For more Details contact Ricans team for free cost analysis !!

As India falls in Northern hemisphere, solar panels should be facing south to get maximum sunlight. The angle of solar panel should depend on the latitude of the region. India is a big country so it hard to define uniform latitude for all regions in India. However, as an approximate, solar panels should be installed at an angle of 30 degrees in India. Please take note that the angle may differ based on your exact location. The solar installer should be able to tell you the best angle for solar panels so that they get maximum sun light and generate maximum DC electricity.

Many Indian states are now paying consumers to sell the solar electricity. In a grid-tie installation the consumers can send surplus solar electricity generated back to the grid. A bi-directional meter records the units of electricity taken from the grid as well as units fed into the grid. The monthly electricity bill credits the consumers for selling electricity. This is called solar net-metering. This policy has been implement in many Indian states.

You would be surprised to know that solar panels can actually work very well even when temperature is between 15 to 25 degrees Celsius. This is because solar panels need maximum sunlight and not maximum heat in order to generate solar electricity. India is blessed with an average of 300 sunny days in a year so solar panels give good performance in Indian weather conditions.

Subsidies are available from multiple channels for setting up Rooftop PV projects.
a) Subsidy/Support from Central Government through MNRE: For systems upto 100 kWp in size, upto 30% subsidy can be availed with the help of MNRE-empanelled channel partners. For systems of sizes 100 kWp-500 kWp, subsidy can be availed through Solar Energy Corporation of India.
b) Subsidy/Support from State Government through State Nodal Agencies (SNAs): Subsidy support is also available in various states. The percentage of subsidy varies according to the state policies. Interested consumers may contact their respective SNAs for more details.

Currently, Ricans implements the rooftop scheme under two models:
A) CAPEX Model: Here, the entire system is owned by the rooftop owners. Responsibility of O&M for the system lifetime (25 years) is also with the rooftop owner. Ricans is responsible for installing the system and initial 2 years O&M.
B) RESCO Model: Here, the entire system is owned by the Ricans. Responsibility of O&M for the system lifetime (25 years) is also with the developer. Rooftop owners consume the electricity generated, for which they have to pay a pre-decided tariff on a monthly basis. Excess generation is exported to the grid, subject to availability of requisite state regulations.

For consumers that have adequate manpower/expertise for O&M, rooftop access concerns, availability of funds upfront, CAPEX model is better. Consumers in states that have net- metering regulations can take benefit of the same in case they have substantial excess generation.
On the other hand, consumers who prefer not to take responsibility for the system O&M, do not have rooftop security concerns and prefer to pay on a monthly basis rather than bulk upfront payment may choose to go for RESCO model.

The useful life of a typical Solar Power plant is considered to be 25 years. This is the duration for which long-term PPAs are signed and financial models are built. However, Solar Power plants can run beyond 25 years while producing a lower output. Many Solar Panel manufacturers guarantee an output of 90% at the end of 10 years and 80% at the end of 25 years.

B. Ground Mounted PV

Ricans’s expert team is responsible for providing End to End, EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) services including DPR report , setting up of power plant and Complete O&M services .

Several tax/duty exemptions are available for solar plants depending on the respective state solar policies where the plants are located. You may contact Us for more details.

In the year 2016-17, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission has given the benchmark capital cost for solar PV projects as 600 lakhs/ MW. Actual cost would depend on site location, components selection, contractor hired etc.

Typically , a 1 MW solar PV project require 3.5-5 acres of land depending on various factors such as type of land , technology used , design of the solar system etc.

There is no subsidy available for utility-scale SPV plants. Various states offer a bouquet of incentives (such as exemption from Open Access charges, feed-in tariffs, tax benefits, accelerated depreciation etc.) to solar power projects that are set up under their state schemes.
At the national level, solar PV plants are being set up through Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (Phase II). Under this programme, projects are being set up with Viability Gap Funding support from the Central Government. Developers willing to avail the Central Government support may participate in the open tendering process.

A certain set of permissions need to be obtained and documents need to be submitted in order to setup a Solar PV plant. These may vary from state-to-state.The following are the statutory clearances and environmental clearances to be furnished:

● Industrial Clearance
● Land conversion (Agricultural to Non-Agricultural)
● Environmental Clearance Certificate
● Contract labour license
● Fire Safety certificate
● Latest tax receipt from the Municipal/Gram Panchayat for the factory land
● Auditor compliance certificate regarding fossil fuel utilization
● Approval from Chief Electrical Inspector
● Clearance from Forest department

Also, all necessary approvals/agreements before start of Solar PV project construction are to be furnished as and when necessary. These include the following:

● Land purchase
● Power Evacuation arrangement permission letter from DISCOM
● Confirmation of Metering Arrangement and location
ABT meter type, Manufacture, Model, Serial No. details for Energy Metering.
● Copy of PPA (important as Preferential PPA projects are not eligible for REC mechanism)
● Proposed Model and make of plant equipment
● Undertaking for compliance with the usage of fossil fuel criteria as specified by MNRE
● Details of Connectivity with DISCOM
● Connectivity Diagram and Single Line Diagram of Plant
● Details of pending court cases

these are typically the clearances/documents required in general for a Solar PV project. These vary according to Dicoms and tender requirements.

C. Consultancy

Ricans offers the following range of consultancy services, both for ground-mounted solar plants as well as for large-scale rooftop PV systems.

• Feasibility studies
• DPR preparation
• Project management consultancy
• Owner’s engineering
• Turnkey services (from concept to commissioning)

D. Solar Parks

Solar Park is a concentrated zone of development of solar power generation projects. The parks are characterized by well-developed proper infrastructure where the risk & gestation period of the projects will be minimized.

Various infrastructure like transmission system, water, road connectivity and communication network etc. will be developed.

There will be 25 Solar Parks in various states, each with capacity 500 MW* or above, thereby targeting a cumulative capacity of around 20000 MW.

Smaller parks in Himalayan & Other hilly states where contiguous Land may be difficult to acquire in view of difficult terrain will also be considered.

States applying under the scheme will have to designate an agency for the development & Management of Solar Park, as per the modes envisaged below;

(i) Mode-I: State designated Nodal Agency (SDNA), a SPSU or SPV of the state Government.
(ii) Mode-II: A JV Company between SDNA & SECI with 50-50 % equity participation from SECI & SDNA. State government may also allow more than oine agency provided total equity participation from State Government remains 50 %.
(iii) Mode-III: State may designate SECI as the Nodal Agency on mutually agreed terms.
(iv) Mode-IV: Private entrepreneurs without any equity participation from SECI, but may have equity Participation from State Government or its agency.

Private Organizations under Model-IV may opt to participate as Implementing Agency. Choice of implementing agency for development and O&M of Solar Park is left to the State government.

Solar Power Developers would have to arrange for their own buyer of power for Projects that are set up within the Solar Park, either by participating in some competitive bidding process, or through mutual negotiations or on nomination basis or for captive use or any other means.

Tariff shall be determined either through CERC/SERC Regulations or competitive bidding.

Following are the responsibilities of Implementing Agency

• Plan, finance, develop, operate & maintain Solar Parks.
• Identify Potential site and acquire /leasehold/possess land of the Solar Park.
• Carry out site related studies/investigations.
• Obtain statutory & Non-statutory clearances.
• Design Plan for sharing development cost between the developers.
• Creation of necessary infrastructure like water, transmission lines, roads, drainage etc.
• Frame out transparent Plot allotment Policy & specify procedures pursuant to relevant State policies and their amendments thereof.
• Provide directives for Technology specific land requirements.
• Engage services of National agencies/ global experts/consultants to promote Solar Park and related activities.
• Facilitate the State Government to establish educational institution / training facilities within the Solar Park for manpower skill development.
Include any other activity related to Solar Power Park, such as manufacturing Unit as per directions of MNRE & State Government