India can have an installed solar power capacity more than six times what it plans to have over the next ten years, a recent report claims.
The report, published by Bridge To India in association with Tata Power Solar, states that India has the potential to install 145 GW of solar power capacity across various project sizes by 2024. The report states the capacity addition potential across four plant sizes: residential rooftop (1-5 kW), industrial and commercial rooftop (10-500 kW), utility-scale projects (5-50 MW) and ultra mega solar power projects (1-3 GW).
The report notes that such a large capacity addition is possible as conventional fuels like coal are getting expensive and scarce. The levelized cost of energy (LCOE) from solar energy is now at par with that of imported coal. While the LCOE for imported coal is expected to increase with a compounded annual growth rate of 12% over the next ten years, the LCOE for solar power is expected to fall with a CAGR of 4%. Solar power will match LCOE of new domestic coal-fired power plants in 2019.
The reports notes that commercial, industrial, and utility-scale projects have the highest potential in capacity addition over the next ten years. Industries are struggling to procure the required electricity through conventional means, even if they are ready to pay a premium; additionally, they also face high tariffs from distribution companies. Utility-scale projects would also be highly successful as the business model is a tried and tested one. Almost the entire solar power capacity operational in India today is the result of competitive bidding organized by state utilities looking to procure solar power.
Both these segments, industrial rooftop and utility-scale, can see up to 42 GW capacity addition each by 2024.
Residential rooftop segment represents up to 35 GW capacity addition by 2024. While the rooftop systems can be installed within days, the supporting external infrastructure for, say, net metering takes time. While a number of state governments have issued net metering regulations, and also provide financial assistance to homeowners, doubts over the grid’s ability to absorb the resulting electricity remain.
Ultra mega solar power projects with capacities of up to 4 GW have been planned by the Indian government. This segment could see up to 27 GW of cumulative capacity added by 2024. Such projects are being planned across India, and will also be supported by dedicated transmission corridors. The central government has announced a financial package of $83 million for four such projects this year.
While the figure of 145 GW seems too high and based on theoretical calculations rather than ground realities, the report does rightly project the massive potential that the Indian solar power market offers. Under the National Solar Mission, India plans to have a cumulative installed solar power capacity of 22 GW. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy hopes to have 100 GW capacity installed by 2030.
Image Credit: Gujarat Power Corporation Limited