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Israeli push for rooftop solar panels should be of huge relevance for India

By Shankar Sharma* 

A recent development indicating that "Israel will soon require all new non-residential buildings to have rooftop solar panels to help it meet renewable energy targets and the electricity demands of a fast-growing population" should be a hugely relevant lesson for India in its energy transition efforts.
It is also reported that: "Although drenched in sunshine, Israel is too small to rely on traditional, land-intensive photovoltaic power plants. It is also unsuitable for wind power and lacks water for hydropower. For residential buildings the roof must be fully equipped for easy installation of panels later on."
Whereas India can be said to have a huge land mass, as compared to Israel, it must also be noted that its land resources are already under considerable stress, and are continuing to be under increasing levels of stress since the last few decades. Land based RE power installations, such as large size solar power parks and wind power parks, are resulting in diversion of large chunks of lands, especially agricultural and forest lands. The fact that the total land area under the cover of forest & trees in our country is only about 22% of the total land area, as against the national forest policy target of 33% should be a deeply disconcerting factor in this larger context.
Hence, the humongous potential of roof top surface in the country must be fully appreciated and optimally harnessed for the sake of overall welfare of our communities. Whereas the amendment seeking to implement the Time-of-Day (TOD) metering system to optimise the usage of electricity across the country should be seen as a huge step in the right direction to accelerate the RE integration, massive incentives, including any financial incentives if necessary, has become critical and well as urgent to transform our power sector. As in the case of Israel, which requires all new non-residential buildings to have rooftop solar panels, India must enact suitable rules/ policies to encourage all new non-residential buildings as well as new residential buildings to have rooftop solar panels to bring down the losses in the power grid, and to reduce the STATE's burden on capital finance for power projects.
There is a need for civil society groups to persuade the Union govt. to provide adequate focus to encourage all new non-residential buildings as well as new residential buildings to have rooftop solar panels. The chronic issues in the power sector cannot be effectively addressed without such policies.
*Power & Climate Policy Analyst



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