Clean Power

Published on October 30th, 2013 | by Joshua S Hill


India Breaks 2 GW Solar Barrier

October 30th, 2013 by  

A new update from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in India has proclaimed the country has passed the 2 GW landmark for grid-connected solar. The figures showed that, as of September 30, 2013, the total solar installed capacity was just over 2000 MW, while off-grid power amounted to just south of 140 MW.

The update was published on the MNRE website, while RESolve Energy Consultants are responsible for the graphs which follow.


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As can be seen, wind makes up a sizable portion of India’s total renewable energy makeup, with 19,881 MW of connected power. India’s wind energy target for 2013-14 sits at 2500, and they’ve already installed 808 MW so far — adding 102.5 in September alone.

Solar power doesn’t receive the same focus as it does in other countries, but it is still growing, with 395 MW deployed already in the 2013-14 time period — of which 111 was deployed in September, taking the number up to 2080 MW.

The news comes on the heels of continuous solar improvements in the country. Tuesday saw the news that Madhya Pradesh, a state in India, already has 202 MW installed and intends to “crank that up to 1,400 MW by the middle of 2015.” And earlier this month India invited bids to build 750 MW of solar plants as part of Phase-2 of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). It’s the first time the country has opened up bidding since 2011, and the government is “offering 18.75 billion rupees ($303 million) in grants to the project from the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF).”

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  • dave roberts

    Excellent. Any knowledge of what % of total electricity generation is represented by renewables in India? Currently (2012?) and projected for some future date like 2020?

    How about other BRIC nations: Brazil, Russia and China?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Brazil gets a lot of its power from hydro and is using a lot of sugar cane ethanol. They’re just getting started with wind and plan on being 10% by 2021.

      India and China, I have no percentages. China pushed forward pretty fast with wind and seems to have run into transmission problems. They see to be putting more emphasis on distributed solar as a way to keep renewables growing while they improve their grid.

      • Luke

        What about India off grid percentages, these figures never show up any where.

  • David Martin

    I’d like to know more about how solar is distributed in India. Are these 2GW large installations that mainly benefit the rich and multinational corporations or is there a good share of small DG systems that can help improve the lives of the poor?

    • Bob_Wallace

      I have no idea what the overall number is but there are some “village” sized solar systems being installed in places where diesel generators have supplied the local grid. There is at least one private company that is installing these systems. Given the price of diesel solar systems should be very attractive.

      Then there’s the micro solar systems. These are very basic stand alone systems which can run a couple of LED lamps and charge a cell phone. They sell on a ‘pay as you go’ system for less than what a household was likely paying for kerosene and candles. The program is much more advanced in neighboring Bangladesh with several hundred thousands systems installed.

  • Amy Clavero Real

    So there was never a 2 GW barrier, just a Landmark. Was reading the article to find out what the barrier was.

  • JamesWimberley

    New solar has overtaken new wind. This transition is irreversible.
    I wonder what credence we can give to the MNRE’ s numbers for off-grid solar (139Mw cumulative). It’s impossible for the government to monitor India’s 638,000 villages at all closely. The same holds for Africa.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I agree. The solar floodgate has been opened and installations will increase at very high rates.

      With micro solar systems now affordable for those at the bottom of the economic level we should see people at all economic levels installing solar in places where the grid is nonexistent, unreliable, or expensive.

      As standalone systems flourish the demand for better, more affordable storage will also grow and further bring down the cost of systems.

      That said, I suspect solar is going to cause an increase in wind installation. As solar kills profits for fossil fuel and nuclear plants during sunny days utilities are going to be looking for less expensive supply for the non-sunny days and wind will be the best option.

      • Matt

        In India case they “can’t” build more coal, since they can’t produce enough coal for what is already “planned”. So yes, I think wind will pick back up to fill in for solar. Even more so when storage comes down.

        • Bob_Wallace

          India seems to have a double “coal problem”. First, not enough water to clean the coal or cool new plants. Then the cost of diesel to haul the coal from mine or dock to plant.

          If common sense prevails then India will be installing a lot of solar. Even using expensive lead acid batteries with solar should be cheaper than diesel generators.

          We really need one of the promising storage companies to deliver. If EOS, for example, can produce what they claim wind and solar would quickly push fossil fuels aside in places like India.

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