The government approved a proposal to implement phase-III of off-grid and decentralised solar PV applications programme to have additional 118 MWp (Mega Watt peak) off-grid solar PV capacity by 2020. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs – chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi – has given approval for implementation of off-grid and decentralised solar PV application programme phase-III.
Around three lakh solar street lights will be installed throughout the country with special emphasis on areas where there is no facility for street lighting systems through grid power — the North Eastern States and Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected districts– under the scheme.
The solar power plants of individual size is up to 25 KWp (kiloWatt peak) will be promoted in areas where grid power has not reached or is not reliable. This component is mainly aimed at providing electricity to schools, hostels, panchayats, police stations and other public service institutions. The aggregated capacity of solar power plants will be 100 MWp.
The programme also has the component of solar study lamps. As many as 25 lakh solar study lamps will be provided in the North-Eastern States and LWE affected districts. For solar street lights and solar power plants, financial support up to 30 per cent of the benchmark cost of the system will be provided except for NE states, hill states and island UTs, where up to 90 per cent of the benchmark cost will be provided. For solar study lamps, only 15 per cent of the lamp cost to be borne by beneficiary student and balance will be provided as financial support as such systems will be provided to school going children in backward and remote areas. the total project cost of the three components included under the phase-III Rs 1,895 crore, of which Rs 637 crore will be provided as central financial assistance.
The off-grid solar systems will also open better livelihood opportunities for beneficiaries in rural and remote areas thereby increasing self-employment in such areas. It is estimated that, besides increasing self-employment, the implementation of Phase-III is likely to generate employment opportunity equivalent to 8.67 lakh man-days for skilled and unskilled workers.
During the Phase-III, the scheme is likely to benefit 40 lakh rural households. In addition, the off-grid solar power plants proposed in the programme to provide electricity to schools, hostels, panchayats, police stations and other public service institutions will help communities at large and also help in increasing participation of women in education, social and livelihood activities.