In a dramatic change, India added 15.3 giga watt (GW) in the burgeoning renewable energy segment in FY17, while the country’s conventional power capacity rose just 6.2 GW in the first 11 months of the year. Though analysts say conventional capacity for the full year could be around 11 GW, renewables’ unprecedented lead would still be intact.
Reflecting the government’s endeavour to increase the share of green power in the country’s energy mix, 6.8 GW of solar capacity and 5.5 GW of wind power were added in the last financial year – the highest annual addition in these segments ever.
Though falling short of the target of 12 GW in FY17, the addition in solar capacity was 125% higher than that in previous financial year. The target for wind power addition in the period was 4 GW and this exceeded the target. Renewable energy comprises solar, wind, biomass power and hydro projects of less than 25 MW. Till December, there was no significant change in small hydro capacity from the beginning of the financial year. However, installed biomass power plants had increased by about 3 GW in the same period.
According to Mohit Kumar, research analyst at IDFC Securities, conventional capacity addition in FY17 is estimated to be around 11 GW.
Tulsi Tanti, the CMD of Suzlon Group, attributed the feat of the renewable sector to investors’ interest and a critical role played by the state governments. There has an improvement in compliance levels of the states in meeting renewable purchase obligations. Interests to buy renewable energy have also grown with their tariffs touching record lows. In two separate tariff based reverse auctions held in February, wind energy rates touched a historic low of `3.46/unit and a record low rate of `3.30/unit rate was finalised for the Rewa solar park.
According to Tanti, in FY15, the total investment in renewable energy sector was $4 billion. Subsequently, it was $7 billion in FY16 and $14 billion in FY17. Goldman Sachs funded Indian renewable firm ReNew Power said that as made investments of `6,700 crore to add 430 MW of solar and 626 MW of wind capacity in FY17.
To reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the country has set a target of 175 GW renewable power installed capacity by the end of 2022. This includes 100 GW from solar power, 60 GW through wind energy, 10 GW through small hydro power and 5 GW through biomass-based power projects.