India’s Solar Capacity Reaches 30 GW Milestone

Solar installations in India have reached 30 GW according to preliminary figures from Mercom’s India Solar Project Tracker.

The share of solar capacity grew from 6.6% as of March 2018 to 8.4% as of March 2019. Among renewables, solar accounted for approximately 38% of the installed capacity, up by 2% compared to the previous quarter.

Renewable energy capacity additions continue to increase in India, accounting for approximately 22.3% of India’s capacity mix at the end of the financial year (FY) 2018-19. This is a substantial increase from the previous 20.3% share reported at the end of FY 2017-18. This significant increase can be mainly attributed to the growth in solar capacity.

India’s total installed power capacity stood at 358 GW at the end of March 2019, with renewables accounting for 80 GW and making up 21%. This was an increase of 1.1% over the fiscal year 2017-18, which had cumulative renewable energy installations standing at 70 GW.

Wind currently accounts for over 35 GW of the total installed power capacity and nearly 10% of the overall power capacity mix, as of March 2019. The installations were down in FY 2018-19, adding around 1.5 GW in capacity additions, compared to 1.7 GW added capacity in FY 2017-18. The slowdown in installation activity can be attributed to various execution challenges, removal of incentives and switching procurement method to reverse auctions from feed-in tariffs.

Out of the total installed capacity, large-hydro power projects’ cumulative installations stood at 45.3 GW, representing 12.66% at the end of FY 2018-19. Large hydro has now been classified under renewables by the Ministry of Power in a push to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement goal of generating 40% of the electricity in India from renewable energy sources by 2030.

The share of nuclear power in the total installed capacity remained the same at the end of March 2019, with no new installation recorded during the FY 2018-19.

Small hydro witnessed a growth of 2.4% year-over-year with 107 MW of newly added capacity in FY 2018-19. The cumulative installed capacity of small-hydro stood at 4.6 GW, making up 1.28 percent of the total installed capacity at the end of March 2019.

Thermal power continued to lead the cumulative installations in the country reaching 226 GW, representing 63.24% of the total installed power capacity. India still depends on the coal power to meet most of its base load requirements. The cumulative installed capacity of coal power stood at 194 GW by the end of FY 2018-19 according to CEA figures.

With the new milestone, 30% of the solar installation goal of 100 GW by 2022 set by the current administration has been achieved, which means 70 GW of solar needs to be installed in the next 3 years – a tall task indeed.

Pratheeksha is a Research Associate at Mercom India. Prior to Mercom, Pratheeksha was an Associate Analyst at GlobalData where she authored and published syndicated research reports in the power generation industry. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Electrical & Electronics from PESITM and Master’s degree in Electrical Power Systems from the Adichunchanagiri Institute of Technology at VTU University.