Kashmir hopes for brighter days as demand for solar rooftops grows shriller

Srinagar, Jan 10: As the call for sustainable energy sources gains momentum, the clamour for solar energy in Kashmir is accompanied by rising demand for an increased subsidy on solar rooftops.

Experts argue that elevating the subsidy rate to 80 percent on the 5 kW plant is crucial to enhance affordability for consumers in the region.

Currently, the subsidy stands at 57 percent, prompting experts to assert that even a moderate increase could yield substantial benefits, making the transition to solar energy more financially viable for residents.

The existing scenario reveals a 57 percent subsidy on 5 kW solar rooftop installations, a model predominantly favoured by households.

However, the cost breakdown of this system raises concerns about its affordability for the average consumer.

The current cost structure for a 5 kW Solar Rooftop plant is Rs 2,56,545, with subsidies from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and the J&K government amounting to Rs 82,094 and Rs 64,136.

The beneficiary’s share stands at Rs 1,10,315, a figure deemed unaffordable for a significant portion of domestic consumers.

Despite the initial financial hurdle, the 5 kW solar rooftop has proven to be sufficient for a family’s energy needs, generating 650 units per month.

According to estimates, the cost of supplying this power to Kashmir Power Development Corporation Limited (KPDCL) is Rs 7.22 per unit, whereas the average domestic tariff is Rs 3.50 per unit.

The subsidy per unit, calculated as the difference between these values, amounts to Rs 3.72.

Consequently, the monthly subsidy for 650 units is Rs 2418, totalling Rs 29,016 annually.

The payback period for the consumer under the current subsidy model is approximately 2.2 years.

In light of the affordability challenges faced by domestic consumers, a proposed scenario suggests an 80 percent subsidy on the 5 kW solar rooftop, aiming to make the system more accessible.

Under this model, the 5 kW solar rooftop plant remains priced at Rs 2,56,545 with the 80 percent subsidy reducing the cost to Rs 2,05,236.

The J&K government’s subsidy share, calculated as the difference between the total subsidy and the MNRE subsidy is Rs 1,23,142.

However, this adjustment increases the payback time to 4.24 years, extending the period during which J&K bears the subsidy burden.

While the impact of the 80 percent subsidy is evident in the extended payback period, it is projected to alleviate the financial burden on consumers, eventually making them self-sufficient in solar generation.

The current status of solar subsidy schemes in J&K includes ambitious initiatives such as the 200 MW grid-tied rooftop solar power plants in Jammu City under the ‘Solar City Mission’ by the Jammu and Kashmir Energy Development Agency (JAKEDA).

However, limitations are observed, with the expiration of the 20 MW MNRE Phase-II scheme in October 2023, leaving only the 200 MW scheme available to Jammu City and no schemes accessible to the remaining districts of J&K.

The success and accessibility of these subsidy programmes will play a crucial role in shaping the future of solar energy adoption among domestic consumers.

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