Solar power generation in India has increased substantially over the past few years. According to the data released by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), solar power accounted for over 11.4 BUs of electricity produced in Q1 2019. This marks a growth of 34% year-over-year (YoY) from the 8.5 BUs generated in the Q1 2018.
Even though renewable capacity additions are growing at a rapid pace, due to its lower capacity factor, the actual electricity generation tends to be much lower compared to nuclear, coal or a gas power plant.
Even with all the new solar and wind installations, renewables still barely make up 10% of the total energy generation in the country showing how far the country has to go before renewables start making a dent in the carbon emissions.
During FY 2018-19, India produced approximately 39.2 BUs of solar power, an increase of nearly 52% compared to the preceding FY 2017-18.
Of the total electricity generation in FY 2018-19, over 90% came from non-renewable sources followed by renewables which stood at just 9%. Compared to the last four years, generation from non-renewable sources has declined, with the share of the generation coming down to 91% in FY 2018-19 from 94% in FY 2015-16. Meanwhile, energy generation from renewables has increased from 5.6% to 9.2% during the same period.
According to Mercom’s India Solar Project Tracker, solar installed capacity in the country at the end of FY 2018-19 reached 30 GW, a 32% increase compared to 22.7 GW installed as of FY 2017-18. Even with impressive year-over-year (YoY) growth, solar accounted for just 2.85% of the total power generated in the country and still has a long way to go.
Thermal power (coal, gas, lignite, and diesel) still makes up the majority of power generation at nearly 78%. Wind power generation has increased by 18% YoY, followed by bagasse at 14% and small-hydro with 13%. The generation from hydro and nuclear accounted for 9.8% and 2.7% respectively in FY 2018-19.
India’s transition towards renewable energy presents an incredible opportunity but also challenges. Increasing the power system flexibility is not easy as more intermittent renewables are added to the grid. Grid integration has already become a significant issue as more solar power comes online in several regions of the country.