Softdisk Solar
Changes Suggested in Legislation for Increasing Solar Energy Productivity in India
Lancaster Model may work for India, presented with changes keeping Indian Scenario in view

The city of Lancaster, California recently adopted an ordinance requiring builders of most new homes to install functional solar power generation systems on these homes prior to their sale to the public. The law is believed to be the first in the nation to actually mandate the installation of solar systems. Californians may recall that the California Environmental Protection Agency, in 2004, advocated the adoption of a home solar power mandate that would have required home builders to include solar power in at least 5% of new homes by 2010 (a figure that was proposed to increase to 50% by 2020). That proposal, which comprised a portion of the agency’s “Million Solar Homes” initiative, never came to fruition.

The Lancaster law, built into the zoning code, is effective with respect to all new home construction permits issued after January 1, 2014. To obtain a building permit, 1 kilowatt of installed solar generation capacity per home within a proposed subdivision is generally required. There is some flexibility built into the law in that it does not necessarily require solar systems to be installed on each and every home within a particular subdivision. For example, for a subdivision consisting of 10 homes, the requirement can be met by having 2 homes that each has 5 kilowatts of solar installed or 4 homes that each has 2.5 kilowatts installed. Builders are also required to include solar energy systems on model homes that are reflective of the solar energy systems that will be offered to homebuyers.

It should come as no surprise that Lancaster is the first city to adapt such a law. Lancaster’s Mayor, Republican R. Rex Parris, is known as a champion of solar, and Lancaster is miles ahead of almost all cities in the country with respect to its support of solar power and its efforts to increase commercial and residential installation of solar power systems. In 2009, Lancaster worked with E-Solar to streamline the permitting and construction process for the company’s Sierra SunTower project, a 5MW solar thermal project that was completed in just 14 months. In 2010, the city launched the Solar Lancaster program, a public-private partnership with SolarCity designed to provide affordable solar system financing for residential, commercial and non-profit customers. That program resulted in the installation of solar systems on 19 different Lancaster School District sites, a Toyota dealership, a church, a minor league baseball stadium, and numerous other municipal buildings. Residential installations have also been proliferating, with one research group calculating that the city has tripled the number of residential installations in the past 18 months. Mayor Parris and the city have managed to cast an impressive global reach when it comes to sharing their vision of a solar powered world – Lancaster in 2012 won first prize in the “Fire” category of the Wolfgang Neumann Energy Globe World Awards in Vienna, Austria, and the Mayor was one of the keynote speakers at the 2012 World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

This is a model, which may suit India in its development towards a solar economy. This would help us to generate lot of energy. The model would for sure increase the prices of residential buildings but with the decreasing prices of solar installations one would find it feasible to buy a house with at which has at-least 500 Watt of solar energy utilization.

In the recent times the Government is proposing to pass a Real Estate Bill in the Monsoon session (2013) of the Parliament and I would like the Government to consider the model of Lancaster and make required amendments to the proposed bill.

Colonizer / Builder license should be given only to those who have fulfilled the following criteria:

1. 20% Total consumption of the proposed colony/project, assuming (at 3kW per flat/Bungalow), lifts, street lights, Lights in common area should be produced using Solar PV.

2. In case of Bungalows, flexibility should be given to each roof top to have facility for Solar Panel to be installed, or a separate cluster of Solar panels to be used to provide Solar Power to set of Bungalows Say 2kVA cluster for set of 4 Bungalows.

3. Geysers option should be disallowed and Solar Water heater should be used for running hot water requirements. This should be made mandatory.

4. TNCP approval should be granted to Colonizers / Builders only when these provisions are included in the colonizers project designs and proposal.

5. No registration of flats / Bungalows should be done by registrar unless colonizers receives completion certificate by the Municipal Corporation.

6. The law should have serious punishments for Authorities giving Completion Certificate / Doing Registrations etc. without actual site inspection.

7. For Banking institutions providing loan, 25% of the loan amount should be kept in hold and payment should be made to the builder / colonizer when Builder provides possession certificate duly signed by the customer.

8. Subsidies should be provided to Builders and Colonizer using LED lights.

9. To begin with Enlisting large builder groups (Adani, Godrej, Mantri, Purvankara, DFL, Gammon, Alakriti, GMR and the likes) – who are putting up very large township constructions projects to incorporate residential solar PV systems in their complexes. Easily available: Rooftops, terraces, building facades, parking areas offer endless possibilities – where the builder has his own control.

10. Builders and real estate companies incorporating solar PV should be eligible for Carbon Credits – since this form of energy generation is definitely less polluting by GRIHA. These Carbon credits can be traded.

11. Owners of the units – (those purchasing these flats / houses) can be given some concession in registration / stamp duty – as an incentive.

12. Cost of solar PV panels is expected to drop further and will touch reasonable prices. Besides technology is also advancing – where efficiency and harvesting is increasing. Coupled with twin axis trackers – these can be fine tuned to provide better yield. On the other hand – cost of smaller rating inverters – string inverters and other connected power electronics too is coming to more reasonable levels. Making the model more meaningful.

13. If a builder or a construction company goes for grid sharing type Solar Power Generation System (Common for the project) Excess un-utilized power should be pumped back into grid.

14. This law should be made applicable to older buildings in phases.

This way India can save at-least 20% of current electricity produced thru Hydro / Thermal / Nuclear projects currently producing electricity.

We all know how important conserving electricity has become now a day, and our state government and their designated agencies have a great role to play under the Energy Conservation Act 2001 and in various other policies. The important actions, which the state government and their designated agencies have to under go, are listed below:

Under Section 56 of the said act it is the duty of the state government to follow up with the Central government for notification regarding the amendments, so the state functions can be taken up in a very smooth manner. So it is even the duty of the state government to give up suggestions for conserving energy.

Under section 57 of the said act the state government has to notify the newly developed rules in the public.

Section 17 of the said act gives sole right to the state government to appoint an inspector to look forward to the activity of conserving energy.

Section 26 of the Said act clearly gives right to the state government to to appoint an adjudicating officer. The main task of the adjudicating officer is to solve various dispute under energy conservation in the particular state.

Section 16 of the said act gives sole rights to the state government to allocate more funds for energy conservation.

Under section 18 of the said act the state government has the right to issue notification and comprehensive directions to all the public sector undertakings to follow the energy conservation norms.

I would even like the law ministry to amend this section and give more powers to the state government by giving them the right to even give directions to private sector and big cooperate Houses and even residential homes to follow energy norms and a different provisions should be made for strict punishment if they do not follow the energy norms.

The said act even gives the right to the state government and the designated agencies to appoint a manager who would look at whether the energy conservation norms are being followed or not.

The Act has a very limited scope and there is a need to introduce new changes by including Residential places and big industries under the perview of this Act.

These were some of the points, which the state government has to under go under the Energy Conservation Act 2001. In the year 2002, under section 3 of the said act Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE). The powers and functions of the BEE have been clearly spelt under Section 13 of EC Act 2001. Following are the functions of the BEE.

Appointment of energy directors.

Publish the details of the energy savings achieved under various pilot projects.

Updating the BEE website and clearly mentioning the various activities of the BEE.

The BEE has the sole rights to give directions to the public sector undertakings for the adoption of energy efficient gadgets.

Under Section 55 of the EC Act 2001 The BEE has the sole right to give directions to the state government to take steps under section 15 to 18 and 57 of the said Act.

Actions required for appointment of the Adjudicating officer.

The BEE has the sole right to to constitute an state advisory committee.

Launching of the small energy savings scheme in domestic sector.

These were rights and duties of the state government and their designated agencies under the same EC Act 2001. The same rights and duties should be given to the state government under the real estate act so that each state government can keep a clear check on the activities on energy conservation.

I for one, firmly believe in legislating a law in which all urban household should generate 500 VA of Solar for getting a 3 kVA connection & Government buildings should have 25% of total electricity requirement generated thru Solar as a bare minimum requirement for approval of the project. Electricity saved thru generation in urban areas can then be transmuted to rural areas where also similar solar power generation can be followed.

This will give impetus to MNRE scheme and can help India reach its Solar 2020 vision and beyond.


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