MNRE Readies Blueprint for Developing Decentralized Solar Projects

DISCOMs must ensure the ‘must-run’ status of these solar projects, the ministry has highlighted

September 27, 2019


The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued draft guidelines for the development of decentralized solar power projects.

The MNRE has called for comments, suggestions, and opinions from the stakeholders before October 11, 2019.

The proposed guidelines apply to solar power projects connected to rural distribution substations of 33/11kV, 66/11 kV and 110/11 kV in their respective areas of jurisdiction. The draft mentions that the power distribution companies (DISCOMs) will notify substation-wise solar power capacity which can be injected in a rural distribution substation. Such capacities may be calculated based on the average energy or load requirement during the daytime.

As per the implementation arrangement, the MNRE in its proposed guidelines has mentioned that the DISCOM may decide the capacity of the solar project permitted to be set up for the connection to the grid. For example, in KUSUM program, the provision is for solar power projects of an individual capacity of up to 2 MW within a prescribed range of distance from the rural distribution substation, preferably 5 km, to avoid the high cost of sub-transmission lines and losses.

“However, DISCOMs need not be constrained by the provisions of the KUSUM project and may decide the size and distance of the power project allowed to be connected and feed power into the grid. The solar power projects may be set up on any land, including agricultural lands by any individual or cooperative, or company,” states the MNRE.

The draft states that the DISCOM will provide connectivity at the substation and will have to ensure ‘must-run’ status to the solar projects by keeping the feeders ‘On’ during the sunshine hours of the day.

Further, the MNRE has proposed that for the selection of the decentralized renewable energy power projects, a DISCOM or any agency authorized by the distribution company should invite bidders to participate in the open competitive bidding process against the Request for Selection (RfS) for the development of the projects.

The bidder is expected to submit a non-refundable processing fee of ₹10,000 (~$140)/MW, and the net-worth of the bidders should not be less than ₹10 million (~$1.41 million)/ MW.

The MNRE will issue specifications and quality control orders applicable for solar modules, inverters, the balance of system (BoS) and other equipment from time to time, and all solar power projects should comply with the grid regulations.

The MNRE is targeting the installation of 118 MW of solar power capacity by March 31, 2020, through off-grid solar applications under Phase-III of Decentralized Solar PV Applications Program.