India’s increasing efforts towards expansion of renewable energy have led to a substantial increase in solar power generation over the past year. In the calendar year 2017, the total solar electricity generation in the country yielded over 21.5 billion units (BU) of electricity. This represents a huge increase of over 86 percent from the 11.6 BU generated in the preceding year of 2016.
More than 9.5 GW of solar projects were commissioned in 2017, accounting for approximately 45 percent of all new generation capacity added in India during the year. This robust installation activity also made solar the number one source of new power capacity additions last year.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, solar power accounted for over 6.5 BU of electricity produced in India. This marks an increase of over 1.2 BU compared to the third quarter of 2017, according to data provided by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA).
The increase was even more substantial when compared to the same period a year earlier, with solar energy generation in Q4 2017 increasing by 80 percent from the 3.6 BU generated in Q4 2016. The rise can be attributed to a substantial increase in the number of commissioned grid-connected solar projects.
In September 2017, installed solar capacity stood at 17 GW and was almost twice the capacity recorded during the same month of 2016, according to Mercom’s India Solar Project Tracker. The pace of installations gained further momentum with another 3 GW added in the final three months of the year to bring India’s total solar capacity to the crucial milestone of 20 GW.
In terms of year-over-year growth, solar was again the clear winner. Solar power generation grew by 86 percent from 2016 to 2017, more than any other power generation source. Wind power generation increased by 21 percent year-over-year, followed by hydro at 6 percent and thermal with 3.7 percent.
However, total power generated by solar energy was still only 1.67 percent. In India thermal still makes up majority of power generation with 79 percent. Solar and other renewable sources still have a long way to go before dethroning king coal.
India’s solar sector could shine even brighter if several lingering uncertainties about matters like the proposed anti-dumping duty, the proposed safeguard duty, and the misclassification of solar modules at ports are dealt with by government agencies immediately.