To effectively accelerate the deployment of solar rooftop systems among residential consumers in the BYPL area, the DISCOM needs to deploy business models that suit each of its different consumer segments. Given the solar value chain (Figure 8), the DISCOM can take up a combination of different roles to tailor the value preposition to a target consumer segment. The DISCOM can leverage its position effectively in the solar value chain through avenues such as payment assurance and financial guarantee, energy services, consumer aggregation, and supply aggregation.
Considering the different consumer categories served by BYPL, as well as the strengths and the position of the utility, the following business models have been identified to have the most impact in increasing the adoption of RTS systems in its license area and in addressing major market challenges.
- Utility-led community solar: on-site and off-site models
- On-bill financing model
- Solar partner model: supply and demand aggregation
While most of these models have been successfully adopted elsewhere, they have been customised to the current context through various additional mechanisms devised to address the challenges that are pertinent to the city.
In Delhi, one of the DISCOMs, BSES Rajdhani, has recently undertaken consumer aggregation for residential societies in Dwarka where interested consumers can reach out to the DISCOM, which, in turn, connects them to developers. However, this model also faces many challenges when it comes to implementation. Besides the issues related to gathering support from multiple parties like individual households and the building society committee, issues of financing remained unresolved. Unless the society members are able to pay upfront, it is difficult for them to acquire financing because societies cannot avail long-term debts. Under the RESCO model, many of the societies do not qualify for the necessary credit and are unable to find a guarantor.
Different solar metering provisions in India
In the case of the gross-metering scheme, solar electricity from the RTS photovoltaic (PV) system is fed directly into the grid. Consumers receive payment from DISCOMs for solar generation at a predetermined tariff.
In the case of the grid-connected RTS PV system, net-metering allows consumers to feed excess electricity into the grid which they can use in another time block. Normal meters are replaced with bi- directional meters which record electricity flow in either direction. At the end of the month, the total amount of solar generation is adjusted in the electricity bill and consumers are only required to pay for the net consumption from the grid.
In the case of virtual net-metering, consumers receive solar electricity credits in proportion to their ownership of a shared community solar system. Solar electricity credits are adjusted in the electricity bill and the consumer only pays for the net electricity consumption.
Fig 1: DISCOM as facilitator
Credit: Scaling Rooftop Solar, Powering India’s Renewable Energy Transition with Households and DISCOMs, CEEW