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Large industries unable to tap rooftop solar energy

HT consumers say they face several bureaucratic hurdles

For large-scale industries, which are high tension (HT) electricity consumers, in the State, rooftop solar energy system is yet to become attractive though Tamil Nadu has a new solar policy.

“The solar policy has not addressed the HT consumers. Several applications submitted during the last two years are also pending for approval with the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco),” claimed A.D. Thirumoorthy, member, State Level Renewable Energy Committee.

According to him, Tamil Nadu has just about 500 MW of solar energy installed by HT consumers. They are mostly rooftop installations. “The industries that want to go in for solar energy on their premises, rooftop or on the ground, have to get a safety certificate from the electrical inspector and Tangedco permission too. Those who installed solar energy systems outside the industry premises, in a different location, get the permission. But, those who want to go in for rooftop or installation on the same premises are unable to get permission,” he said.

Mr. Thirumoorthy said solar energy developers in the State appealed to the government to allow HT consumers, which are mainly industries, to install solar energy systems on their premises. This will reduce transmission losses too.

According to Prabhu Dhamodharan, convenor of Indian Texpreneurs Federation, textile mills are going through a tough phase and those continuing operation are able to do so mainly because of the price advantage they get from captive wind energy generation. Power cost constitutes 10% to 12% of the production cost for the mills. Renewable energy for captive use helps the industry improve its competitiveness.

Punjab, Maharashtra, and Gujarat are supporting the HT industry with concessions in power cost. However, in Tamil Nadu, the industries are facing several hurdles in getting permission for rooftop solar projects, he said.

An industrial source added that industries that invested in solar energy and installed panels are waiting for approval. This adds to the financial burden of the industries.

Tamil Nadu Electricty Consumers Association secretary N. Pradeep said the State should also have a policy to promote hybrid power generation.

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