India is likely to have met its target of adding 10,000 watt of solar power generation capacity in the year ended March 2018, thanks to a sudden spurt of installations during the final months of the year (Jan-Mar), going by numbers released by an independent group.

According to Mercom India, a consultancy that tracks the clean energy sector, India added a whopping 3,269 MW (3.27 GW) of solar power generation capacity between January and March of this year — the highest ever such addition in the country’s history for any three month period.

In comparison, during the first eight months of the financial year (April to November, 2018), India added just about 3.5 GW, according to government figures.

It seemed likely, at the time, that the country would not be able to meet its target of adding 10 GW of incremental solar power generation capacity in FY2018, taking the total to 22.3 GW.

However, according to Mercom’s numbers, India had 22.8 GW of installed solar capacity at the end of March 2018.

According to the firm, there was a pick-up in installations in the last six months of the financial year (October-March), when the country added a total of 5.7-5.8 GW of solar power capacity.

Solar power project developers could also heave a sigh of relief during the first three months of 2018 as equipment prices again began to climb down after rising on tax uncertainties in the second half of 2017.

The largest installed capacity in India is in Karnataka, with the state accounting for about 5 GW out of the total 22.8 GW, Mercom said.

It was followed by Telangana with around 3 GW, and Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh with around 2 GW each.

ROOFTOP vs FARMS

India has a target of having 60% of its solar power capacity on the ground and 40% on rooftops.

However, it has not been able to keep up with these designs so far. According to government figures, only 5.2% of the 16.61 GW of solar power installed as of November last year was on rooftops.

However, things seem to have improved in the five months since then, going by Mercom’s numbers.¬†According to Mercom, India had “around 2 GW” out of its 22.8 GW installed on rooftops, which works out to about 8.1%.

“Installed rooftop solar in the Q1 2018 was up by 50 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2017,” the firm said.

FORECAST

Despite this, the firm forecasts India to miss its 2022 Solar Mission target of having 100 GW of generation capacity.

Mercom forecasts India to have around 77 GW of solar power generation capacity by December 2022, well short of the target.

Much of the shortfall would come in the rooftop segment, according to the market tracker, while the ground-based, large-scale project segment would be largely on target.

Against a target of 60 GW for ground-based, grid-connected systems (farms), Mercom sees total installations of around 58 GW by end of 2022 (see chart on top).

However, against the target of 40 GW for rooftop, the firm predicts only about 19 GW to be achieved by the deadline.

The agency also has a more conservative estimate of projected yearly additions of capacity compared with those of the government. The government, for example, expects to add about 60 GW of solar power capacity in the last three fiscal years (2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22).

However, Mercom sees additions remaining at around 11.0 to 11.5 GW per year for the four years between 2019 and 2022.

For the current year, it is predicting a total addition of around 8-9 GW, while the government is hoping for anywhere between 15-20 GW.

It should be noted that these numbers are far below the additions seen in countries such as China.

India’s northern neighbour, for example, added 9.5 GW in just the three months from January to March of 2018.

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