SolarQuarter August Issue 2020

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INSIGHTS 18

ROOFTOP SOLAR GOES DIGITAL ! Despite 5. 5 GW and counting, Rooftop Solar (RTS) still lags in realization of its true potential. Policy & regulations, financing and process streamlining issues continue to impact its accelerated deployment and some of these pitfalls have been accentuated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. RTS projects implementation is expected to have a short gestation period. However, given the pandemic situation, delays are inevitable. Thus, there lies a great opportunity to streamline and expedite RTS operations and implementation process. Digitization of RTS will significantly reduce these delays and improve overall performance. Digitisation – requirement and utility

Digitisation plays a vital role in every sphere of the RTS ecosystem, be it feasibility assessments, vendor and consumer on-boarding, DISCOM approvals, monitoring or financing. For instance, lack of data regarding the total capacity of RTS plants interconnected to a distribution transformer (DT) and the limits imposed by state net metering (NEM) regulations on NEM connections based on DT capacity, lead to data asymmetry and process inefficiencies. Online DT mapping for the entire DISCOM coverage area will assist DISCOMs to efficiently manage the distribution network and provide timely approvals. Secondly, for successful RTS tenders, if a potential pipeline is offered upfront through an online data room, true and competitive price discovery is undeniable. Thirdly, Unified Web Portal (UWP) enables DISCOMs to provide a seamless experience for consumers to apply for grid interconnection, to manage vendor activities and to claim subsidy, all on a single window digital platform. Fourthly, post vendors’ empanelment, the consumer on-boarding process can be digitised by floating online expressions of interests (EoI), thereby reducing the transaction costs and fostering RTS deployment. Finally, online performance monitoring of RTS projects will empower key stakeholders with competitive performance benchmarking, access to components’ performance ratings, overall visibility of the RTS plants’ performance including target environmental parameters, demand forecasting, planning and scheduling, RPO compliance, provision of generation-based incentives, participation in peer-to-peer energy markets (block chain enabled), certified and validated generation data -

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facilitating bankers in project yield assessment, reliable O&M information, performance rating for developers etc. For financiers, the entire loan process involving application, verification, approval, monitoring and closure can also be automated through online document submission systems, chatbots, digitised tracking systems by combining with the online performance monitoring. Current efforts on RTS digitisation

Several market players and DISCOMs have already implemented many of the above leading digital initiatives viz. , launch of UWPs & online consumer aggregation, online monitoring, online DT mapping (e. g Telangana DISCOM), online loan processing by Banks (e. g IDBI) etc. SUPRABHA, the World Bank-SBI rooftop solar technical assistance program has already made a comprehensive digital impression in more than 10 states in developing UWPs. It has also established more than 12 online data rooms covering more than 4000 sites with 350 MW capacity across 12 States. Such data rooms have been a key contributor to the price discovery for tenders over 200 MW. SUPRABHA is currently working on a Vendor Management Portal to assist DISCOMs to manage the post-bid processes. SUPRABHA recently supported National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) in establishing a remotely monitored RTS platform and has also initiated work on online site monitoring mechanism and an automated loan process mechanism for banks. Post COVID-19, SUPRABHA believes that RTS digitisation is the way forward to intensify the momentum towards achieving the desired targets.

NITHYANANDAM YUVARAJ DINESH BABU Team Leader, Sustainable Partnership for Rooftop Solar Acceleration,

Bharat (SUPRABHA-The World Bank SBI Initiative) Executive Director, Strategy & Transactions

Ernst & Young Services Private Limited

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