A commercially successful Solar PV plant is a product of multiple stages of intense effort by several stakeholders and collaborators. Additionally, with useful life of solar plant being more than 25 years, it requires long-term dedicated commitment of multiple teams for successful operation throughout the life. Before, going through the various stakeholders of zero investment solar plant, it is important to briefly understand, What is exactly a zero investment solar plant ?
What is Zero Investment Solar Plant ?
A zero investment solar plant essentially is a innovative financial model, which allows an existing electricity consumer to switch to cheaper & clean solar power without any capital expenditure. Instead of paying for the plant the consumer pays for electricity and in a way able to mitigate finance requirement, risks, operation & maintenance headache all at once. The tariff for solar units is less than the grid-electricity tariff which also provides significant cost savings to the client.
Now, take a look at various stake-holders that are involved in a Zero Investment Solar Plant.
Various Stakeholders of a Zero Investment Solar Plant
1. Client or Consumer
The Client or Consumer, is the foremost stake-holder of any preposition and same goes in this model also. The consumer signs a long-term (usually 15/20/25 years) contract for purchase of electricity generated by Solar power plant at the decided tariff rate. Additionally, in the arrangement the consumer is also responsible for physical safety like theft and other damages of the system.
2. Investor or Developer
Investor or Developer is the key stakeholder responsible for this innovative business model. The Investor usually Clean Energy Investing funds, Alternate Investment funds (AiF’s), Companies are provide funds for such solar power plants. The power purchase agreement (PPA) is essentially signed between Clients (Consumers) and the Investors. The investors own the plant for the tariff period and are singly responsible for all the factors to the client. Other stake-holders mentioned below provide their services to the Investors. However, as far as the project is concerned their role is equally important.
3. EPC Company
The investing company or investors have their own or affiliated companies, which take care of the engineering, procurement, and commission of the plant. Solar Plants design is depends on various parameters including geographical location, type of roof, slope of roof, shadow structures etc. and hence, each plant design needs to take care of all these and many more parameters to provide effective output across the life. The EPC team or partner company executes these design and essentially transforms the paper agreement, designs into a physical project. The complete concept to commissioning process in India usually takes anywhere between 60 to 180 days.
4. Operation & Maintenance Company
While the commission of solar plant takes 4-6 months, operations & maintenance is a 25 years process and hence, one of the key stakeholder. While Solar panel have warranty of 25 years and inverters of 5 to 15 years, other material like cables and switches can wear-off well before. Also, solar panels tend to catch dust, and get spoiled with birds excreta which can hamper generation. Thus, one of the key ingredients to successful plant operation in case of Solar, is Cleaning services. Usually, cleaning and basic O&M services are provided by a local affiliate company of developer or investors and play a key role in project.
5. DISCOM or Utility Company
Surprising, yet true, one of the main stakeholder of a successful zero investment project is Grid. Policy framework needs to be accounted right from project design stage. during execution also, the energy meters, project size, materials used all need to be approved by the DISCOM. Further, as majority of zero investment projects are net-metering based, the DISCOM is a party to a separate contract. Discom or utility grid acts a reservoir taking up all the extra energy that is generated and providing back the units whenever there is a shortfall.
The idea behind the post is to elaborate on the fact that a successful zero investment solar project does not depend only on the cheapest rate, but a variety of teams – their technology, experience, presence and of-course the consumer.