The government of Uttar Pradesh has initiated a drive to set up rooftop solar plants in 25,000 homes across Varanasi, with a two-month timeline for the project. Following a directive from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), urging such initiatives in Varanasi, the state plans to replicate similar campaigns in other cities. The central and state government will invest ₹150 crore and ₹75 crore respectively for this ambitious project and the amount will be dispersed as a subsidy on solar panels.
What is This Scheme About?
A solar rooftop on-grid system is a solar energy system connected to the main electrical grid. In this system highly subsidized by the government, solar panels are installed on the roof of a building to convert sunlight into electricity. Any surplus electricity generated by the solar panels is fed back into the grid using a bidirectional meter, and users are compensated for the excess power through adjustments in their power bills. Presently, Varanasi has a modest count of 664 rooftop consumers, predominantly residential (588), with a connected load totaling 27 MW, despite boasting around 3.26 lakh electricity connections and 2.25 lakh households.
The Uttar Pradesh New and Renewable Energy Development Agency (UPNEDA), will serve as the nodal agency for the project. UPNEDA has formulated a comprehensive strategy for the installation of solar rooftops in 25,000 households in Varanasi city, employing a multifaceted approach. This includes an extensive publicity campaign to raise awareness among residents, complemented by meticulous logistics and supply arrangements planning.
UPNEDA has a target of solarizing 250 homes in 100 wards of the city. Officials state that the Remote Sensing Application Centre in Lucknow will collaborate with the agency to identify houses with sufficient shadow-free roof space using geospatial technology.
In recognition of the campaign’s importance, UPNEDA will deploy 10 project officers (POs) in Varanasi for the next two months to supervise the program’s implementation, assigning one project officer for every 10 wards of the Varanasi Municipal Corporation (VMC).
UPNEDA has also finalized 100 solar panel vendors, 25 manufacturers, and distributors, five inverter manufacturers, and 2 net meter manufacturers who will establish their offices in Varanasi City for the installation of solar rooftops.
As a part of the Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) campaign, bulk messaging will be sent and pamphlets will be distributed to around 3 lakh power consumers.
The workforce of 500 ‘Suryamitras’ (ITI diploma holders in solar) trained by UPNEDA will be deployed across 100 wards for customer acquisition. Additionally, radio jingles, print media advertisements, and cinema hall bytes will be utilized to ensure faster outreach.
Door-to-door outreach programs along with booth camps will be organized for detailed information to customers and applicants to encourage them to install solar rooftops at their buildings. A QR code too has been developed by UPNEDA and the same will be distributed to consumers for easy registration. Arrangements for easy financing for customers and vendors had also been made.
In conclusion, the ambitious initiative undertaken by the Uttar Pradesh government to install rooftop solar plants in 25,000 households in Varanasi marks a significant step towards promoting sustainable energy solutions. This project aims to make solar energy more accessible and widespread. and this initiative serves as a potential model for future endeavors in other cities, reinforcing the importance of renewable energy in India’s sustainable development goals.