February 7th, 2018 by Saurabh Mahapatra
India achieved an operational solar power capacity of 20 gigawatts by the end of 2017, Mercom India Research has claimed.
According to Mercom India Research, a record 9.5 gigawatts of solar power capacity was likely added in 2017, taking the total solar power capacity operational in India to over 20 gigawatts. The figures do not match those released by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, and Mercom attributes the figures to its ‘India Solar Project tracker.’
India launched the National Solar Mission in 2009 with a target to have 20 gigawatts of grid-connected and 2 gigawatts of distributed solar power capacity by March 2022. India’s grid-connected solar power capacity now stands at 20 gigawatts — including 18.4 gigawatts of utility-scale and 1.6 gigawatts of rooftop solar power capacity, according to Mercom.
In 2015, the current government revised the capacity targets to 100 gigawatts of solar power capacity by March 2022. The Indian government recently announced a highly aggressive auctions timeline which will see 77 gigawatts of capacity auctioned by March 2020, giving developers at least 2 years to commission all projects.
A total capacity of 3.6 gigawatts has already been auctioned in FY2017-18. An additional 3 gigawatts will be auctioned in December 2017, 3 gigawatts in January 2018, 5 gigawatts in February 2018, and 6 gigawatts in March 2018. A further 30 gigawatts each will be auctioned in FY2018-19 and FY2019-20. Thus a total of 77 gigawatts will be put on the block by 31 March 2020. Developers will thus have ample time to deliver all projects by the March 2022 deadline.
Along with solar, the Indian government also revised the overall renewable energy capacity target upward for 2022 to 175 gigawatts. According to the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, the total renewable energy installed as of 31 December 2017 is 64.4 gigawatts. The Indian government expects the capacity to go beyond the 175 gigawatts target by March 2022.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced an allocation of just over Rs 5,020 crore ($790 million) for the expansion of various renewable energy technologies and other activities of the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) for the financial year 2018-19.
MNRE is expected to commission 15.62 gigawatts of new renewable energy capacity in the financial year 2018-19. The targeted capacity addition is 7.3% higher than the capacity addition target set for the financial year 2017-18.
The capacity addition target in the wind energy sector remains unchanged at 4 gigawatts. Remember, the wind energy capacity addition in India will remain highly regulated due to the shift from a feed-in tariff regime to competitive auctions.
The MNRE targets the addition of 11 gigawatts of solar power capacity, up from 9 gigawatts in FY2017-18. The solar power capacity, too, will be highly regulated through the auctions timeline already announced by the MNRE. The solar power capacity addition includes 10 gigawatts of ground-based large-scale projects and 1 gigawatt of rooftop projects.
The capacity addition target for small hydro technology has been increased from 200 megawatts to 250 megawatts. The biopower capacity addition has also been increased marginally from 340 megawatts to 370 megawatts. Surprisingly, no target has been mentioned for waste-to-power projects.
The largest allocation, of Rs 2,045 crore ($321 million), has been provided for capacity addition in the solar power sector, i.e. to add 11 gigawatts of capacity. Rs 848 crore ($133 million) have been earmarked for 200 megawatts of solar lighting devices and 20 megawatts of solar thermal applications.
A very important allocation of Rs 600 crore ($94 million) has been made for implementation of 3,000 circuit kilometers of transmission lines across 8 states rich in renewable energy resources. These transmission lines (Green Energy Corridors) will be used solely to transmit electricity generated from renewable energy projects.
The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) will receive Rs 128 crore ($20 million) for payment of interest on green bonds it plans to issue over the course of the financial year.