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India to add 144GW renewables by 2022

India is expected to add 144GW (Gigawatts) renewable energy capacity by the fiscal year (FY) 2021-2022, considering the current state of wind, solar, and other renewable sources, says a report. This is not far from the 175 GW target the country set in 2015.

India is on its way to a run-rate that will exceed its 275GW targets in 2027.

Although the country is on track, the report said the fiscal year 2018-2019 was weak for both the thermal and renewable sectors in terms of increased generation capacity. In total, only 12GW of net new power generation capacity was added; compared to an average of 22GW added between FY 2012-2013 and 17GW in FY 2017-2018.

It said that India introduced 5.8GW of new coal-fired capacity but shuttered 2.4GW of end-of-life thermal power plants during the year, resulting in net new thermal capacity adds of just 3.4GW. This is the lowest level of thermal coal power plant net adds in a decade.

New on-grid capacity additions in renewable energy stood at 8.6GW (6.5GW of solar, 1.6GW of wind and 0.5GW from other sources) for the financial year ending in March 2019, which was a 40% drop from the peak renewable energy installs achieved in 2016-2017.

Industry experts expect another near flat year for utility-scale solar with 7-8GW commissioned by March 2020, owing to import restrictions on solar modules for two years. In spite of this, 9GW of rooftop solar could be installed in the coming three years, given the 68% growth rate in annual installations during the calendar year 2018.

Wind power will most likely bounce back with potentially 5GW of new capacity under construction right now with a commissioning deadline in FY 2019-2020, the report said.

According to the Ministry of Renewable Energy’s March 2019 statement, 75GW of renewable capacity has been installed across India, 28GW auctioned, and 37GW of capacity is under various stages of tendering and bidding.

The report said that if all these plans come to fruition, this amounts to a total of 141GW of renewable capacity, relative to the government’s target of 175GW by 2022. Provided the 37GW of tendered capacity is awarded in the next six to nine months, it will mandate developers to commission this capacity before March FY 2022 (the deadline for commissioning solar and wind power projects is generally 24 months).

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has been approving a number of smaller projects around the country to reach its targets. One of these projects was the setting up of an 18MW solar rooftop project in Odisha, earlier this week.

Odisha expects to better the performance of other states in the scale of implementation of solar rooftop projects. It has already implemented 4MW rooftop projects in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. The cost for development of 1MW of rooftop solar projects is roughly estimated at US $1.2 million.

India is also considering an ambitious acceleration of renewable energy deployments to 500GW by 2028. This will require a US $500 billion investment in generation and another US $250 billion in grid expansion and modernisation.

The long-term outlook for the country is favourable for renewable energy. This is mainly due to the fact that India saw a decline in the wholesale electricity tariffs from solar and wind generation sources in 2017-2018 with capacity consistently awarded at sub-IN 3 per unit through reverse bidding auctions.

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