The realization of poor progress toward the 100 gigawatt operational solar power capacity by March 2022 has dawned upon the Indian government, which has moved into hyperdrive to ensure that this target is met in the remaining months.
Adjectives can do no justice to the latest auctions timeline announced by the Indian government. The Minister for New & Renewable Energy RK Singh recently announced that the government will auction 77 gigawatts of solar power capacity by March 2022.
A total capacity of 3.6 gigawatts has already been auctioned in FY2017-18. An additional 3 gigawatts will be auctioned in December 2017, 3 gigawatts in January 2018, 5 gigawatts in February 2018, and 6 gigawatts in March 2018. A further 30 gigawatts each will be auctioned in FY2018-19 and FY2019-20. Thus a total of 77 gigawatts will be put on the block by 31 March 2020. Developers will thus have ample time to deliver all projects by the March 2022 deadline.
The solar power projects to be auctioned will include ground-mounted utility scale projects, floating projects over reservoirs, and small-scale projects to help farmers generate additional revenue from their land.
Ground-mounted projects will likely move forward under the established platform of the solar power parks scheme. Singh also stated that studies for setting up a large floating solar power project at the Bhakra Nangal dam have been completed. The National Hydro Power Corporation also announced plans to set up a 600 megawatt floating solar power project at the 1,960 MW Koyna hydro power project. Several similar projects are likely to come up in the near future.
If the Indian government adheres to this timeline and indeed auctions 77 gigawatts capacity by March 2020, it could very well surpass the 100 gigawatt target. As of the 31st of October 2017, India had an operational solar power capacity of 15.6 gigawatts. Adding 77 gigawatts takes the total to 92 gigawatts while several hundreds of megawatts are already under construction.
An important sector missing from the timeline announcement was the rooftop sector. In spite of an initial target to set up 40 gigawatts of rooftop solar power capacity by March 2022 as part of the 100 gigawatt target, India has made little progress towards this goal. By the 30th of September 2017, only 790 megawatts of rooftop solar power capacity had been installed, contributing just 5.3% of total solar power capacity in the country.