Tarun Kapoor, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in India, had invited all channel partners of the federal incentive programme to a meeting in New Delhi on 31 January 2013. Out of the 68 partners, 42 followed the invitation to discuss the pending subsidy payments and the targets in fiscal year 2013/2014. Kapoor assured that all subsidy claims would be settled as soon as possible. He set the target for 2013-2014 at a newly installed collector area of 2 million m² (see the attached report). “This ambitious target will generate a sense of confidence for future business activities in the Indian solar thermal sector,” the Joint Secretary said at the meeting.
Kapoor confirmed that his ministry had established a committee to examine all submitted applications and forward them to the responsible department for disbursement within 20 days of reception. Kapoor urged the channel partners to meanwhile enter the applications in MNRE’s online database SOLARWHIN in order to speed up the process. There seemed to be several channel partners which still had not used SOLARWHIN. He promised to make modifications to the software, because some of the manufacturers complained that the online tool was not user-friendly enough.
The MNRE Joint Secretary also discussed some improvements in the administration of the support scheme, which should speed up payment and reduce the high burden on the manufacturers, as has been pointed out in a market survey by Malaviya Energy Consultancy.
- The MNRE encourages its channel partners to submit their targets of anticipated business dealings in the coming fiscal year. This will help the ministry evaluate just how much solar water heaters will be sold and subsidised, in order to allocate funds by its financing department. Kapoor set a timeline for the approval of all submitted targets: March 2013.
- The maximum amount of collector area that can be submitted with one claim has been reduced from 10,000 m² to 7,000 m². Depending on the channel partners’ rating, they have to set up a collector area between 1,000 and 7,000 m² before they will be able to claim subsidies.
In addition, Kapoor called upon the channel partners during the meeting to promote solar water heating technology and the federal grant scheme beyond the borders of Karnataka and Maharashtra, which are already established state markets. At present, manufacturers are only concentrating their efforts in selected urban areas of the country, in which business seems lucrative. The Joint Secretary emphasised the need to focus on other geographical regions, so that every Indian could benefit from the use of solar technology. The participants of the meeting agreed that such a promotion scheme would require a joint effort by the manufacturers, the Solar Thermal Federation of India (STFI) and the MNRE.
This text was written by Jaideep Malaviya, an expert in solar thermal based in India (firstname.lastname@example.org)