India's Solar Capacity Rises By 72% In FY'18, Says Report
According to a report by Bridge To India, a leading renewable energy consultancy firm, the utility solar capacity of India in FY 2017-18 has increased by 72 per cent over last year. The country has achieved 9.1 Gigawatts (GW) of utility solar installations compared to 5.5 GW in 2016-17.
Solar projects that are built on a utility-scale are huge facilities which generate solar power of a huge capacity supplying a utility grid.
India’s cumulative solar capacity is 24.4 GW comprising of 10.4 GW of total solar installation along with rooftop solar plants and off-grid solutions. In fact, the capacity addition of solar power in 2017-18 was more than that of other conventional and renewable energy sources, combined. Among the various states, Karnataka outperformed others with the highest capacity of 4.1 GW amounting to 46 per cent of the total capacity installed as shown in the report. This southern state also has the largest commissioned solar capacity in India of 5.2 GW.
Here’s more information from the report:
High performing states
Following Karnataka closely on their heels is Telangana, with second highest cumulative capacity of 3.28 GW; Rajasthan with 2.3 GW; Andhra Pradesh having a capacity of 2.28 GW and Tamil Nadu with a capacity of 1.86 GW.
Solar power producers
There are many companies in the Indian energy sector who are actively undertaking utility-scale projects and promoting the government’s aim of generating 100 GW of solar power by 2022, in a big way. The study named the top three developers of 2017-18 which are Adani Green Energy, Renew Power and Acme Solar. They have installed a total capacity of 2.3 GW.
Future capacity addition
Majority of installations this year were executed through state government tenders. But it was predicted in the report that the solar capacity addition for the FY 2018-19 would be lower as there was recently a slowdown in tender activity.
Rooftop solar installations
The target for rooftop installations is set at 40 GW by 2022. But the trend of rooftop solar installations has been low in past years. As of March 2018, the total rooftop solar capacity was at 2.4 GW, with an addition of around 1 GW in 2017-18.
India’s renewable energy targets and challenges
India is urbanising rapidly which has led to a surge in demand for electricity. In light of mounting environmental concerns and the need to meet the demand-supply gap, renewable sources - especially solar power - show the way towards a sustainable future. Even today, about 18 per cent of the country’s population lives without any access to electricity. Furthermore, India’s position on the globe makes it a favourable location with high exposure to solar radiations. This coupled with the availability of vast land spaces for setting solar projects is a huge advantage to realise the nation’s solar dream. India has set the overall renewable energy target of 175 GW, with solar power capacity of 100 GW, by 2022. However, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has said it plans to exceed the figure by reaching 227 GW, including 113.5 GW of onshore solar and another 31GW of floating solar and wind.
Although government’s favourable solar policies, its active push for solar projects through incentives and falling prices have led to a rise in demand. Nonetheless, the supply has been low due to land issues and transmission factors. Besides, a provisional safeguard duty of 70 per cent on imported solar equipment, proposed by Directorate General of Safeguards (DGS), Ministry of Finance, hint at potential roadblocks. The introduction of GST has also been cited as a factor causing the slowdown on rooftop projects.
According to MNRE, 10,500 MW of solar projects were bid out this year whereas only 5,000 MW of projects were offered in 2016-17. The government has lowered solar tariffs to boost investments. The rates were as low as Rs 2.44 per unit at an auction conducted by Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) in May 2017 at the Bhadla Solar Park in Rajasthan in May 2017.