Month in a Minute: Important News from Indian Solar Industry in October 2018

The month of October witnessed some key announcements in the Indian solar industry. For example, India’s solar installations recorded in the first half (1H) of calendar year 2018 totaled almost 5 GW and the country’s total installed capacity has exceeded 25 GW, according to Mercom’s  India Solar Market Leaderboard 1H 2018.

Here are some of the other key highlights from the month:

Renewable energy capacity accounted for approximately 21.41 percent of India’s capacity mix at the end of September 2018. This is a 0.48 percent increase in the installed capacity of renewable energy generating sources when compared to June 30, 2018, when renewable energy sources accounted for 20.93 percent of total installed power capacity.

Since the implementation of safeguard duty, there has been a rising concern regarding its levy among importers of solar modules and cells from countries like Vietnam and Thailand because these were not included in the final findings of the Directorate General for Trade Remedies (DGTR). Some of these importers were under the assumption that if the imports crossed the demarcated margin of three percent (of installed solar capacity), they would be asked to pay safeguard duty. However, after discussions with various sources, Mercom has found that this is not the case. At least for now.

China added 34.5 GW of solar PV capacity in the first three quarters of 2018. This takes China’s total installed solar PV capacity to 164.74 GW, of which 117.9 GW are of utility-scale PV power projects with the remaining 46.8 GW coming from distributed generation (DG) projects, according to the data provided by China’s National Energy Administration (NEA).

Asian Development Bank (ADB) has successfully completed the pilot phase of its satellite-based smart meter project in a village in Varanasi in which 5,000 households received the meters. India.

BSES, Delhi’s major distribution company (DISCOM), has launched the second phase of its Solar City initiative in New Delhi. In this phase, Shakur Basti area will be covered. Shakur Basti has many colonies and BSES estimates the solar rooftop potential to be about 15 MW. Rajdhani Power Ltd (BRPL) is also targeting to install 5 MW of rooftop net-metering in the area by 2019-20.

According to a newly published report by the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA), India has emerged as the world’s largest cash market for off-grid solar products, with 1.3 million products sold in H1 2018 alone.  This accounts for an impressive 44 percent of global sales.  3.7 million off-grid solar products were sold globally during the first half (H1) of 2018, an increase of four percent in comparison to the same time last year, the report finds.

Solar kits are hassle-free, and a simpler option for residential consumers. Rooftop solar kits have the potential to transform the growth trajectory and acceptance levels of rooftop solar systems in Indian homes due to the numerous benefits they offer to the consumers. So far in India, the commercial and industrial (C&I) sector has accounted for majority of rooftop solar PV installations.

Electric vehicle sales so far have been inconsistent under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid) and Electric Vehicles (FAME) program. While some states have made good progress, many states are well behind in EV adoption. According to data by the Department of Heavy Industries’ official website, Maharashtra is leading when it comes to the number of vehicles sold under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid) and Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme.

Solar projects aggregating 750 MW under development in Rajasthan’s Bhadla Solar Park are facing delays due to land procurement issues. In Bhadla Phase-III Solar Park, Hero Future Energies had won bid to develop 300 MW of grid-connected solar PV by quoting ₹2.47 (~$0.0334)/kWh and SB Energy (SoftBank) had won bid to develop 200 MW of utility scale solar by quoting ₹2.48 (~$0.0335)/kWh.

The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has amended the RfS for 2,500 MW of ISTS-connected wind-solar hybrid power projects (tranche-I) and reduced the capacity to 1,200 MW from the earlier 2,500 MW. Moreover, the ceiling tariff has been reduced from ₹2.93/kWh (~$0.040/kWh) to ₹2.60/kWh (~$0.035/kWh).

India’s solar installations recorded in the first half (1H) of calendar year 2018 totaled almost 5 GW and the country’s total installed capacity has exceeded 25 GW.

The rapid pace of solar installations in India has brought the concern for quality of equipment to the forefront. Recognizing the issue at hand, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) issued a series of guidelines for conducting tests on solar photovoltaic (SPV) modules (crystalline and thin film, including bifacial type). The guidelines, though welcomed by the industry, have not produced the desired results, yet.

The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has extended the bid submission deadline for setting up of 10 GW of ISTS connected solar PV power projects linked with 3 GW (per annum) solar manufacturing capacity for third time. The new bid submission deadline is November 12, 2018 and techno-commercial bid will open on November 13, 2018.

Solar penetration in India is highly cost sensitive, says a recent working paper released by the National Institute of Transforming India (NITI) Aayog. Per the paper, as far as solar and wind capacity is concerned, without any significant improvement in cost, capacity addition of these renewables in baseline scenario is limited.