India continues to add record volumes of solar and wind energy capacities even as the net capacity additions in the coal sector remain stunted.
According to government data, India added just under 6 gigawatts of solar power capacity between January and June 2018. Around 1.4 gigawatts of wind energy capacity was also added during this period. Along with other technologies, the total renewable energy capacity added during this six-month period was 8.5 gigawatts.
The capacity additions in solar and overall renewable energy sectors were the highest-ever since H2 2015, and perhaps all-time, as renewable energy capacity in the country, except in the wind sector, was quite low before that.
At the end of June 2018, India’s solar power capacity stood at just over 23 gigawatts, while the total installed renewable energy capacity was over 73 gigawatts. Wind remains the leader with a nearly 50% share — at 34.4 gigawatts of installed capacity — within the renewable energy capacity.
In H2 2017 and H1 2018 lower capacity in the fossil fuel sector was added than in the solar power sector in India. In fact, in H2 2017 fossil fuel-based power generation capacity actually contracted by 1.6 gigawatts due to continued retirements of aging power plants. Around 3.9 gigawatts of solar power capacity and 4.5 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity was added in H2 2017, with the net capacity addition at just 3.3 gigawatts.
In H1 2018, around 4 gigawatts of fossil fuel-based capacity was added, representing a share of around 31% with the balance 69% coming from renewable energy technologies, including 47% share from solar power capacity.
This continued, and unprecedented, rise in solar power capacity addition over the last few quarters has been the direct result of numerous competitive auctions undertaken by the central government, state governments, and public sector companies in India. On the other hand, India’s thermal power sector is plagued with over-capacity and financial constraints, with several private sector companies reeling under debt worth billions of dollars.
The renewable energy sector may also be heading for a gloomy period as central agencies, like the Solar Energy Corporation of India, have failed to attract project developers for several of their large-scale auctions.
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