The solar power generation increased by 12% quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) in the last quarter of the calendar year (CY) 2019, totaling 11,750 MUs, according to the data released by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) compared to Q3 total of 10,530 MUs.
The solar power generation increased by 19% year-over-year (YoY) compared to the last quarter of the CY 2018.
The solar power generation in CY 2019 totaled 46,033 MUs, a 27% increase on a YoY basis compared to the 36,331 MUs of solar generated in the CY 2018. The power generation in the third quarter tends to be weak in India because of the monsoons. The increase of 27% was considerably less when compared to the calendar year 2018, which witnessed a 69% growth YoY in solar generation.
The year 2019 saw several issues that took a toll on solar installations and solar power generation. One of the primary reasons for the slowdown was the downturn in the economy along with curtailment due to low power demand resulting in the solar installations taking a hit.
Curtailment has been a big issue in many states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and others and is one of the reasons why solar developers are hesitant to develop new solar projects in these states. Earlier in the year, the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) had reprimanded the state load despatch centers (SLDC) that it cannot curtail solar power generation at its convenience. In Karnataka also solar PV projects are facing the same issues of curtailment.
In the month of July, in a strategic meeting held by the Solar Power Developers Association (SPDA), the key stakeholders deliberated upon the major issues affecting the developers ranging from deviation settlement issues to payment security mechanism. On the topic of regular grid curtailment by the state load despatch centers (SLDC), the developers opined that there had been a lack of operational transparency in the system.
In November, to expedite and streamline the process of developing solar projects, MNRE issued amendments to its guidelines for the competitive bidding process. The latest amendments issued by the government seem to be an attempt to provide relief to solar developers in the country tackling issues such as payment security mechanism, curtailment of power, and timely tariff adoption, among others.
Looking at the data on a monthly basis for the CY 2019, generation peaked in the month of March and April and then saw a decline in the month of June and July.
The decline can be attributed to the onset of monsoons. The generation rose again in the month of November and December, in line with the yearly trend. The solar power generation in the months of November and December hovered around the 4,000 MUs mark.
Earlier, Mercom reported that cumulative solar installations in the country stood at around 35.6 GW at the end of CY 2019, representing 9.6% of the total installed power capacity mix. It accounted for about 26.7% of all renewable energy in the country.
In comparison, at the end of 2018, solar power contributed to roughly 27.9 GW of the total installed generation or 7.9% of the overall power capacity.
Recently, a panel reviewing the Indian Electricity Grid Code (IEGC) 2020 suggested that wind, solar, wind-solar hybrid, and hydro projects should be treated as ‘must-run’ power projects. The draft report also suggested that such projects should not be subjected to curtailment on account of merit order dispatch or any other commercial consideration.
Solar power generation in India has continued to grow, albeit at a slower pace despite nagging issues such as curtailment, low tariffs, delayed payments, and lack of availability of transmission infrastructure and land.
Rakesh is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Prior to joining Mercom, he worked in many roles as a business correspondent, assistant editor, senior content writer, and sub-editor with bcfocus.com, CIOReview/Silicon India, Verbinden Communication, and Bangalore Bias. Rakesh holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU).