BENGALURU: India is set to meet its target of adding 10,000 MW of solar capacity in 2017-18, almost twice that of the increase in 2016-17.
The country had added 5,526 MW of solar capacity in the last fiscal, which was itself a record at the time.
“Our cumulative capacity was 19,584 MW in end-February, and we will be crossing 22,000 MW by March 31,” said Anand Kumar, secretary in the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE).
The total capacity at the end of 2016-17 was 12,288.8 MW, which means that 7,295 MW had been added till end-February and another 2,700 MW is expected to be commissioned in March.
The capacity addition is expected to accelerate further in 2018-19.
“We have bid out 10,500 MW of solar projects this year, as against 5,000 MW in 2016-17,” said Kumar. “We have also brought solar tariffs down to affordable levels.”
Solar tariffs reached a record low of Rs 2.44 per unit at an auction held by Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) for 500 MW of projects at the Bhadla Solar Park in Rajasthan in May 2017, which compares favourably with the cost of thermal power.
India has declared an ambitious ambitious target of 100,000 MW of solar capacity by 2022, which MNRE officials are hopeful of reaching. “Our bidding trajectory has been laid out until December 2022,” said Kumar.
Of the 7,295 MW added until end-February, the highest was by Karnataka, which commissioned a record 2,628.62 MW of projects in 11 months. This was followed by Telangana, which added 1,995.69 MW. Capacity addition in other states was way lower, with the third highest being Rajasthan with 502.83 MW.
For many years, Gujarat had the highest solar capacity, until it was overtaken by Rajasthan in 2015-16. Rajasthan, which also enjoys the highest solar radiation, was in turn overtaken by Andhra Pradesh in 2016-17, which added the highest capacity of 1,294.26 MW that year. In end March 2017, Andhra Pradesh had a total solar capacity of 1,867.23 MW against Rajasthan’s 1,814.28 MW.
But with its spurt of activity in 2017-18, Karnataka is now the new No. 1in solar among Indian states, with a total capacity of 3,657.52 MW as of end-February. Telangana follows in second place, with a cumulative 3,282.67 MW of solar projects. Rajasthan is in third place, with 2,317.11 MW, and Andhra Pradesh in fourth with 2,170.32 MW. Gujarat has fallen to sixth place with 1,587 MW, behind Tamil Nadu at 1,822.57 MW.