Individual households and businesses are increasingly able to generate renewable energy for their own use. Advances in information and communication technologies (ICT) and falling prices for renewable energy appliances make this possible. All this has led to a new player in the energy system: the prosumers in India.
What Are Prosumers?
Prosumers are end-use consumers of electricity who also produce their own electricity at the point of consumption to meet their own electricity needs, to export electricity to “the grid” (the electricity system), or some combination of both. Simply put, prosumers are electricity consumers interacting with the grid by generating some amount of electricity.
Prosumers use a variety of renewable energy technologies and applications such as solar photovoltaic (PV), small wind turbines, and stationary fuel cells. Although many categories of prosumers exist, including at the residential, commercial and industrial scales, the most common type are homeowners who install solar panels on their roofs to produce a share of household electricity needs, while exporting the surplus to the grid or using battery technology to store it for later use.
Why Are Prosumers Important?
Globally, residential prosumers account for a significant share of global PV capacity. The increasing number of prosumers could transform the electricity system and the way in which all electricity consumers interact with it.
In addition to the ability of prosumers to self-generate and connect with the grid, they have the potential to help mitigate the growth of energy supply-demand gaps and electricity system losses.
Prosumers in India
The Government is turning consumers into active prosumers in India. Its schemes include targeted subsidies, like for poor households in Kerala and Goa. For promoting decentralized off-grid clean energy sources among the less resourceful civilians in rural areas, the government launched the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) scheme, where the scheme offers 90% financial support and only 10% as a loan.
The Union government is planning to come out with regulations to protect the interests of prosumers in India. “We are going to come out with regulations, which lays down the rights of consumers and the rights of prosumers,” said R K Singh, Union Minister of State for Power (Independent Charge), Government of India at a media briefing in October 2019. The Minister was inaugurating the Conference of Power and New & Renewable Energy Ministers of States and UTs at Kevadia, Gujarat.
“Earlier there were only electricity consumers. Now there are prosumers, who produce energy, consume energy and take any additional requirements from the grid. We want everyone to become a prosumer,” Singh said.
The Government has demonstrated its commitment to rooftop solar PV by setting ambitious targets: by 2022, India aims to hit a solar capacity of 100 gigawatts (GW), 40 GW of which is to come from rooftop systems. The prosumers in India are the major component for achieving this target.