Money would come from CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds, aggregating about Rs 1,000 crore a year.

 State-run oil biggies are to tap solar power to light up the lives of one million school-going kids and help them shine in academics. The companies are to provide solarhome lighting systems so the children can study after dark without suffering the heat and toxic fumes of kerosene lamps. 

The project is to be implemented in districts with high consumption of kerosene on “area saturation” basis. Money would come from CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds, aggregating about Rs 1,000 crore a year. 

Data for the last census conducted in 2011 show 47% households using kerosene for lighting. The solar initiative is aimed at reducing use of kerosene for lighting purpose and prune subsidy. The companies had some years back funded cooking gas connections for Delhi’s poor to make the Capital kerosene-free city

India consumes about 59 million tonne of kerosene, a little less than diesel. But several studies have said nearly 40% of the poor man’s fuel sold through ration shops flows into the black market for adulteration due to subsidy, pegged at Rs 34.43 a litre at present. 

Sources said the chief executives of all the big oil firms – IndianOil, ONGC, Hindustan Petroleum, Bharat Petroleum, GAIL, Oil India – and senior oil ministry officials discussed the plan earlier this month at the Petroleum and Planning Analysis Cell, the ministry’s data monitor. 

The idea originally came from the ministry of new and renewable energy which sought a role for the oil companies in its “million solar lights project being implemented with IIT-Bombay. The idea behind dovetailing the oil companies’ CSR is to bring down kerosene consumption and reduce subsidy outgo. 

The oil ministry’s economic division thinks solar lamps could replace kerosene as a lighting fuel. Two options for implementing the initiative are being weighed – either through IIT-Bombay as part of the existing project or a separate rollout by the companies. 

The project is part of the outgoing UPA-2 government’s efforts at ramping up solar power usage. But the project and liberal funding from oil companies – and subsequently even power companies– could come in handy for the outreach plan of the BJP if the party forms the next government at the Centre. The party’s manifesto stressed solar power as a key ingredient of ensuring India’s energy security.

Startup launching solar ATMs in India

Vortex Engineering, an Indian start up, is rolling out solar-powered ATMs to facilitate banking in rural parts of India.

The ATMs use the same amount of energy as a conventional light bulb, and can operate without air conditioning is heat up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Vortex’s solar-powered ATMs emit at least 18,500 kg of CO2 each year, when compared to conventional ATMs.

“Our ATM is a customized solution to rural India’s unique problems where power is scarce, accessibility is poor, crisp notes are rare and the language and dialects vary. Yet, it a product that is scalable across geographies,” Kannan Lakshminarayan, co-founder and chief technology officer at Vortex Engineering, told CNBC.

“I have always been motivated by the social impact of work on society. Local problems need local solutions. When you import solutions, you can at best be only second rate,” says Lakshminarayan.


Su-Kam installs solar power systems in 10,000 households in Tamil Nadu

 Power back up solutions provider Su-Kam Power Systems has installed solar power systems in over 10,000 houses in seven districts of Tamil Nadu under the Chief Minister’s Solar Powered Green House Scheme, launched by TEDA ( Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency).

The company would be putting up 2,500 more such systems under this phase of the project by the end of May 2014, a statement from the company said.

Under the scheme, three lakh houses would be constructed with solar powered lighting systems over a period of five years from 2011-12 to 2015-16 for the benefit of the poor in rural areas, the statement said. 


“In addition to the above, TEDA has assigned us the project of installing solar power systems in 27,700 additional houses in the next phase of this project,” Ashish Sethi, VP-Solar projects, Su-Kam, said. These projects will come up in Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, Coimbatore, the Nilgiris, Tiruppur, Dindigul, Madurai and Sivaganga districts.

Punjab looks at sun to cut down Rs 5,500 cr free power bill

Punjab is looking towards tapping solar energy to cut down its mounting free power bill. After announcing to make the state power surplus through thermal plants,Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal Tuesday said it would try to use solar power to run the nearly 13 lakh tubewells in the state.

“We have to ensure power not subsidy to farmers. If we are able to generate power through solar plants and solar parks,Punjab would not have to shell out Rs 5,500 to Rs 6,000 crore as power subsidy,” he said after giving away letters of award for generating 250 MW of solar power to private bidders,including eight large (five to 30 MW) and 18 small (one to four MW) plants.

Punjab had initially set a target of bidding out 1,000 MW for solar power. It was brought down to a more pragmatic 300 MW by the Punjab Renewable Energy Agency (PEDA),of which bids were received for 250 MW.

Punjab Renewable Energy Minister Bikram Singh Majithia said Punjab is said to have missed the information technology bus,but it will not miss the solar energy boom. “Each megawatt of solar power entails investment of Rs 8 to 10 crore. By installing 250 MW,we will bring in investment of Rs 2,500 crore to Rs 3,000 crore. We have also identified space for installing solar panels on government buildings. To begin with,60 MW will be bid out. For making biomass based plants viable,we will approach the power regulator for allowing a more attractive rate of power purchase. There are also plans to create solar parks with installed capacity of up to 1000 MW,” he said.

Majithia said five other states had also bid for solar energy simultaneously but the response to Punjab was better owing to the “incentives policy,making prior arrangements for payments with banks and other facilitation services offered by the government”. “We studied policies of other states and came out with one which attracted the highest number of bidders. Unlike thermal plants,renewable sources of energy pose no environment hazard. The rates of solar energy are also going down – they are around Rs 8 per unit – making them viable for states to purchase it,” he added.

Punjab to set up solar power clusters for tubewells

Punjab government has decided to explore the possibility of developing solar power clusters to energise agricultural pumps in rural areas besides setting up of solar panels on canals and roof tops of big buildings to help the state bring down the power subsidy cost.

Punjab government has decided to explore the possibility of developing solar power clusters to energise agricultural pumps in rural areas besides setting up of solar panels on canals and roof tops of big buildings to help the state bring down the power subsidy cost.

Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal on Wednesday said that “there is a large scope for developing solar power clusters in rural areas to provide power to agricultural pumps directly thereby cutting the subsidy and further investing the saved money to produce clean energy”.

Sukhbir asked the Non-Renewable Energy Minister Bikram Singh Majithia to get a study including technical as well as financial viability of the solar power clusters done.

“Under this proposed initiative,a cluster of tubewells and their power requirement will be identified. Based on this,solar power panels with one time investment can be installed to supply it power,” state-owned Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) Chief Executive Officer T P S Sidhu said.

The government supplies free power to farmers and the subsidy burden arising out of free power is expected to grow to Rs 5,700 crore this fiscal.

Majithia informed that PEDA was considering a proposal to create land pools in Kandi as well as Kalanaur area of Gurdaspur district to attract investment for setting up of big solar power plants.

Sukhbir also asked PEDA to set a target to generate 500 MW of power,each in biomass and solar power sectors in next two years. He also asked PEDA to analyse reasons for slow implementation of setting up such plants and directed to remove the bottlenecks.

The Deputy CM said it was high time for the state to replicate the success solar power stories of Gujarat and Rajasthan in the state.

He also directed for the cancellation of permissions to those companies which were dilly-dallying their projects on one and another pretext. He underlined the need to encourage both new entrepreneurs and big players by giving permission to them up to 2 MW and up to 25 MW,respectively.

Decoding the solar track record of India’s political parties

The first solar policy in India was released by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state of Gujarat in 2009. This was soon followed by a much more comprehensive National Solar Mission at the central government level by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) headed by the Indian National Congress (INC). Both these policies have laid the foundation for the creation of a solar power ecosystem in the country. Today, apart from the NSM at the central government level, 11 Indian states have a solar policy in place (refer). With the general elections underway, BRIDGE TO INDIA is trying to assess which political disposition is more favorable to the solar industry in the country (refer to our first blog of the subject). Today, we are trying to evaluate the experience until now to judge the various state policies based on the political dispensation responsible for it.

  • On an average, BJP ruled states lead in both signing the PPAs and execution of projects followed by INC and then the regional parties
  • The Indian National Congress has to be credited with introducing NSM at the central government level
  • There is a need to improve on the mission and make it more ambitious in terms of its target

Four Indian states introduced their policies when the Indian National Congress (INC) had been in power. These states include: Andhra Pradesh (2012), Uttarakhand (2013), Kerala (2013) and Rajasthan (2011) (Rajasthan now has a BJP government). Cumulatively, these state policies aim to achieve an installed capacity of 4,600 MW across varying time horizons. PPAs for 738 MW have been signed in these states. Of this, a capacity of just 101 MW has been installed.

In comparison, four states introduced their solar policy when the country’s prime opposition political party, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), was in power in the respective states. These states include: Gujarat (2009), Madhya Pradesh (2012), Chhattisgarh (2012) and Karnataka (2011) (Karnataka now has a Congress government). Cumulatively, these state policies aim to achieve an installed capacity of 2,000 MW across varying time horizons. PPAs for 1,180 MW have been signed in these states. Of this, a capacity of just 1,050 MW has been installed. Gujarat leads the way with an impressive 860 MW installed, followed by noteworthy installations for 175 MW in Madhya Pradesh.

Regional parties in Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab have announced state policies with an aim to achieve an installed capacity of 5,825 MW across varying time horizons. PPAs for 414 MW have been signed in these states. Of this, a capacity of just 8 MW has been installed.

From the initial analysis, it is apparent that on an average, the regional parties have been the most ambitious with their policy targets, followed by INC and the BJP. The order for actual signing of PPAs and commissioning of projects has been just the reverse. BJP ruled states lead in both signing of PPAs and execution of projects, followed by the INC and then the regional parties. 80% of all BJP ruled states, 36% of the INC ruled states and 30% of regional party ruled states have a solar policy in place.

Based on past record, it can be concluded that with regards to solar power, BJP ruled states have done better on most counts except their ambition to set targets. Also, amongst the four regional parties that have released solar policies in their respective states, three have allied with the BJP in the past.

In addition to what is happening at the state level, the INC has to be credited with bringing in the NSM at the central government level. The mission was considered ambitious when it was released. Now, there is a need to improve on the mission and make it more ambitious and in line with targets being set by countries such as China and Japan. Whether or not a probable BJP government is able to deliver it, is yet to be seen. To get more perspective on India solar sector dynamics, follow BRIDGE TO INDIA’s blog.

Su-Kam to commission solar power system in rural households of UP

LUCKNOW: Su-Kam Power Systems, lndia’s leading power back up solutions provider, has bagged a first of its kind large scale solar project in Uttar Pradesh to install and commission solar power systems in 40000 rural households in the state. 

The company has bagged this prestigious project after winning a tender from Uttar Pradesh New and Renewable Energy Development Agency (UPNEDA), which has been assigned this project under the “Lohia Awas Project” by the Government of UP. 

As part of this project, Su-Kam shall be installing “Solar PV power packs” which comprise of 3 nos. of LED lights (2 LEDs of 3 W & 1 LED of 5W), 1 DC ceiling fan (25 W) and 1 solar charge controller with mobile charging point in each of the rural houses. The project that aims to provide electricity to these 40000 homes shall span over a period of 1 year.