India has achieved a milestone 20 GW in cumulative solar installations in eight years. The National Solar Mission had initially set the target of 20 GW installed capacity by 2022. This has been achieved four years ahead of time. The government is working to achieve the revised target of 100 GW solar by 2022.
According to Mercom’s India Solar Project Tracker, cumulative utility-scale installations now stand at about 18.4 GW, with rooftop solar accounting for another 1.6 GW. For the first time, solar was the top source of new power capacity addition in calendar year 2017, with preliminary figures showing that solar installations reached 9.6 GW, and accounted for 45 per cent of total capacity addition. The top states for solar installation were Telangana followed by Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan.
India’s rooftop solar sector also witnessed steady growth last year, alongside a rise in grid-connected utility-scale solar. Rooftop solar accounts for about 1.6 GW of the 20 GW of capacity installed so far, and could be bolstered by a new Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) policy designed to further its growth. MNRE recently announced a new programme that would provide distribution companies incentives for commissioning rooftop solar projects.
Even with the new MNRE initiative, the pace of overall solar installations is likely to be less impressive in 2018 as several protectionist policies appear poised to increase costs and uncertainty. “The Government’s revised solar installation target of 100 GW by 2022 has recently clashed with Prime Minister Modi’s Make in India initiative to promote domestic manufacturing. The recently announced 70 per cent preliminary safeguard duty recommendation, the ongoing anti-dumping case and a 7.85 per cent port duty on imported modules have created an atmosphere of regulatory uncertainty that is taking a toll on the industry and slowing down installation activity,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group.
“20 GW of solar installations is a laudable achievement for India considering the initial goal. However, it took eight long years to reach 20 GWs and hopefully the pace will pick up going forward. Private solar companies in India have gained vital experience over the years and are looking at the government to create an environment conducive for growth and remove the policy uncertainties that plague the industry,” Prabhu said in a statement.