As India retires some of its ageing thermal power plants, it continues to add solar power projects at a rapid pace, backed by a blitzkrieg of competitive auctions at the central as well as state government level.
The Indian government reported that in Q3 2017, the country’s coal-based power capacity shrunk by 1,126 megawatts while solar power capacity grew by 1,657 megawatts. Q3 2017 was the first quarter since at least Q2 2015 when the coal-based power generation capacity shrank. At the end of September 2017, India’s coal-based power capacity stood at 193.4 gigawatts, down from the all-time high of 195.6 gigawatts in May 2017.
The net capacity added in the coal sector this year stands at 4,459 megawatts at the end of September 2017, while the solar power capacity addition was at 5,759 megawatts, pushing the total solar power capacity to 14,772 megawatts.
Solar power capacity addition in Q3 2017 more than doubled from 826 megawatts to 1,657 megawatts. The highest-ever solar power capacity addition in a quarter was 3,276 megawatts in Q1 2017. With a strong pipeline of under-construction projects, capacity addition records could be rewritten in the coming quarters.
In the last 10 quarters, coal-based power capacity addition has exceeded capacity addition in the renewable energy sector five times. However, in five of the last six quarters India has added more renewable energy capacity than coal-based capacity.
At the end of September 2017 the total renewable energy capacity installed in India was 60.1 gigawatts, while coal-based capacity was 193.4 gigawatts. India plans to increase its renewable energy capacity to 175 gigawatts by March 2022.