India Installs 4.8 Gigawatts Worth Of Solar In First Half Of 2017, Surpasses All Of 2016

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India installed an impressive 4.8 GW worth of solar in the first half of 2017, according to new figures published by Mercom India Research, which is even more impressive when you consider that the country only installed 4.3 GW in all of 2016.

The new figures from Mercom India Research, part of the Mercom Capital Group, show that India added a total of 1,869 MW (megawatts) in the second quarter, bringing the total for the first half of 2017 up to 4,765 MW. For the second quarter, India’s solar installations was made up of 1,639 MW worth of utility-scale solar and 230 MW worth of rooftop solar. Across the whole of the first half of this year, utility-scale solar accounted for 4,290 MW and rooftop solar 475 MW.

Further, India’s cumulative total of rooftop installations surpassed 1 GW (gigawatts) in the first half of the year as well, while the country’s total installed capacity now reaches 14.7 GW.

“The Indian solar market had its best first half and is on pace to have its best year,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO and Co-founder of Mercom Capital Group. “However, uncertainty around GST rates, utilities renegotiating to get better rates, and the recently initiated anti-dumping case has stalled momentum in the sector and could have a significant negative effect on installations in 2018.”

Looking forward, Mercom predicts that India will install 10.5 GW worth of new solar in 2017, a 144% increase over 2016’s 4.3 GW, “due to [a] robust project development pipeline slated to be commissioned by year end,” but as Prabhu suggested, things are currently looking as if they will taper off somewhat after this year.

The state of Andhra Pradesh became the first in India to surpass 2 GW worth of solar installed, followed by Rajasthan with 1.9 GW, while a total of seven have exceeded 1 GW. India’s current pipeline sits at an impressive 12.2 GW, and a further 6.3 GW worth of tenders pending auction. In the second quarter, approximately 3.4 GW worth of solar was tendered, and 1.85 GW in the first quarter. A total of 2.5 GW was auctioned in the second quarter, and 1.3 GW in the first quarter.

Further good news out of India’s auction system was that the lowest bid in a solar reverse auction declined by 26%, and the average large-scale solar project costs in the second quarter were approximately ₹4 crore (~$0.62 million)/MW. The second quarter also saw the lowest ever tariff of ₹2.44 (~$0.037)/kWh for the 500 MW Bhadla Phase-III Solar Park auction. Unsurprisingly, most Indian utilities are looking for similarly low tariffs, which has led to delays in Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) signings, tenders, and auctions.

“Most projects under construction will not be affected, but new tender and auction activity has stalled and most developers are taking a pessimistic view of the recent developments,” explained Priya Sanjay, Managing Director of Mercom Communications India.

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Joshua S Hill

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