Renewable Energy

Shadows over solar: Rajasthan’s PM Surya Ghar Yojana faces implementation issues

Technical glitches, bureaucratic delays and unmet targets plague the scheme 

 
By Binit Das
Published: Tuesday 11 June 2024
Photo for representation: iStock

The Prime Minister Surya Ghar Yojana, a pivotal initiative by the Government of India aimed at promoting solar energy in residential sectors, targets the solarisation of 10 million households nationwide.

In Rajasthan, a goal to solarise 500,000 households was outlined in the interim budget presented by Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Diya Kumari in February 2024. However, the target appears superficial and unachievable given the current efforts and performance of the state discoms.

Data revealed by REC Ltd in a webinar on May 6, 2024 highlighted significant discrepancies in the scheme’s progress.

Applications and installations under Prime Minister Surya Ghar Yojana in Gujarat and Rajasthan

State

Total Applications

Total installations

Installation to application ratio

Gujarat

1,33,717

26,012

19.45%

Rajasthan

72,671

1,275

1.75%

Rajasthan has only 50 per cent of the applications compared to Gujarat, despite having more scope for installations. The application to installation ratio in Rajasthan is a mere 1.75 per cent , compared to 19.45 per cent in Gujarat.

This discrepancy necessitates immediate attention and intervention for the desired outcomes of the PM Surya Ghar Yojana. But there are many issues that hinder its implementation. 

The first issue is insensitive behaviour of assistant engineer (AEN) offices. Despite efforts by the demand-side management cell to sensitise distribution company (discom) officials, many AEN offices remain unaware of the latest orders regarding rooftop solar and its priority implementation. 

This results in delays and neglect in addressing consumer and vendor concerns.


Read more: Solar City Ayodhya: PM Surya Ghar Bijli Yojana promoted as ‘free electricity scheme’ during polls, leaves many confused


Another major issue is non-compliance with net metering timelines. Although residential solar installations by vendors take only 2-3 days, commissioning often exceeds a month due to procedural delays. 

The net metering timeline set by the discom was originally 80 days, which was reduced to 18 days by an order dated February 27, 2024. Despite three months having passed since the order, none of the AEN offices have adhered to the revised timeline.

Time taken for load extension is another matter of concern. Approximately 70 per cent of consumers require load enhancements to meet their solar installation needs. However, the current process, often mired in paperwork, can take months to complete even when no on-site cable or meter alterations are necessary.

Consumers who applied for load extensions as early as March 2024 under the PM Surya Ghar Yojana report pending approvals from the discom. This delay persists despite the generation and submission of demand notes for solar installations.

In several cases, although net meters and solar meters have been tested, the standard meters, required for the load extension, remain unchanged. This step is seen as redundant since consumers already have tested net meters.

The situation is particularly severe in rural areas, where AEN offices frequently reject load extension requests outright due to insufficient transformer capacity. These procedural delays in load extension are proving to be the greatest obstacle to the successful rollout of the PM Surya Ghar Yojana in Rajasthan.

The last roadblock are glitches in the PM Surya Ghar portal. For the past two months, the portal has been experiencing various glitches, significantly impacting consumers, vendors and discom officials. 


Read more: Renewable energy in India: why rooftop remains the most untapped solar source


Although recent fixes have partially resolved issues for consumers, enabling them to submit applications, AEN offices remain reluctant to process these applications or proceed with project commissioning, citing ongoing portal accessibility problems. 

This hesitation is causing irreparable delays and hindering the timely installation and commissioning of solar projects under the PM Surya Ghar Yojana.

In a bid to boost solar energy adoption in residential sectors nationwide, the PM Surya Ghar Yojana has emerged as a beacon of promise. However, its implementation in Rajasthan encounters substantial hurdles, leading to a notable lag in installation rates when compared to states such as Gujarat. 

With the ambitious goal of solarising 500,000 households in Rajasthan, urgent intervention and enhanced procedural efficiency are imperative to unlock the initiative's full potential.

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