Karnataka has emerged as India’s No.1 state in terms of installed solar power capacity overtaking early leaders such as Gujarat and Rajasthan, according to the latest numbers from the Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India.
According to these numbers, the south Indian state accounted for almost a whopping 19% of India’s total capacity of 39.084 GW as of the end of February this year.
The southern state, whose installed solar power capacity stood at 7.347 GW, was followed by Rajasthan with 5.473 GW and Tamil Nadu with 4.403 GW.
These numbers are slightly surprising, given that it was Gujarat and Rajasthan that were the first off the mark when India embarked on a mega expansion plan for solar power projects 3-4 years ago.
As of mid 2018, for example, Gujarat led the country in terms of having solar farms at various states of commission or implementation, with nearly 6.2 GW of capacity being planned in that state.
It was then followed by Rajasthan and Andhra at around 4.2-4.3 GW each. Karntaka was at No.5 with just 2 GW planned, behind MP with 2.75 GW under implementation.
However, the new chart of installed capacity looks very different, with Karnataka and Tamil Nadu overtaking the western Indian states despite a strong and early start by Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Another impressive performer has been Telangana, which was nowhere in the picture in the early stages, but now has close to 4 GW of installed capacity, in line with Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.
Madhya Pradesh, which began impressively, has also found itself left behind, and now has less than 2.5 GW of capacity despite being one of the most suitable states for solar development.
Uttar Pradesh, at 1.67 GW, and Bihar, at 0.16 GW, are also among the laggards, as is Kerala, with 0.26 GW, and West Bengal (0.15 GW) and Assam (0.04 GW).
India has a target of setting up 100 GW of solar power generation capacity by the end of next year, but is running behind schedule in terms of implementation.
With only 39 GW put in place over the last 5 years, the country has to set up another 61 GW in the remaining 22 months.
Given that the sale of electricity is in the hands of government monopolies in most states, new capacity is being incentivized in the form of 25-year procurement contracts by government agencies signed with private developers.
Any private firm can participate in reverse auctions to bid for such supply contracts. The winner has to set up the solar farm at its own expense and continue to supply the promised quantity of solar power to the government agency for the next 25 years. In return, the government agency will provide the promised price – which is currently around Rs 2.5 per unit of power delivered.