India: 7.2 GW of utility-scale solar 'plausible' in FY 2016-17

Growth of 140% is expected in India’s utility-scale solar PV segment, with 4.8 GW set to be commissioned in the calendar year 2016, 80% of which will be seen in the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka, writes Bridge to India.

2015 saw 2 GW installed, under the 2.45 GW anticipated by the analysts, which resulted from project delays in various states. "Out of the 2 GW commissioned in 2015, 700 MW of capacity was completed under central government allocations, 850 MW under state allocations and the remaining 450 MW under other heads, including private initiatives," say the analysts.

The majority of new utility-scale solar capacity this year will come from state level allocations, while delays from utility, NTPC Limited and the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) will likely see National Solar Mission capacity allocations come online only in H1. Despite this, the government’s financial year 2016-17 target of 7.8 GW of utility-scale solar seems "plausible."

Overall, Bridge to India expects to see the same amount of utility-scale solar installed in Q1 2016 (2.007 GW) as was installed in the whole of last year. 856 MW is on track to be installed in Q2, 1.393 GW in Q3 and 590 MW in Q4.

The calendar year 2017, meanwhile, is set to see more than the 4.8 GW expected this year. The overall result is that India will become one of the leading global solar markets "for at least the next two years." The government is targeting 10 GW in the financial year 2017-18.

"However, it is not going to be easy to sustain this momentum as states are expected to assume the responsibility for further growth once the central government led allocations begin to dry up," writes Bridge to India. "We foresee evacuation of power and grid stability becoming big bottlenecks for future growth as several gigawatts of capacity comes up in the southern states itself. The speed of implementation of the inter-state evacuation corridors will be key to the success of these initiatives and sustainable growth of the market."

Rooftop market

Up from the 200 MW expected in 2015-16, the Indian Government aims to install 4.8 GW of rooftop solar in 2016-17. Cumulative capacity today is said to be 525 MW.

While Bridge to India did not comment on the rooftop market in its latest industry note, it did comment on the news announced last week that the government had upped its budget for rooftop solar PV deployment, from INR 6 billion (around $90.2 million) to INR 50 billion (around $751.8 million) up until 2019-20, aiming to install 4.2 GW.

Jasmeet Khurana, associate director – consulting at Bridge to India told pv magazine at the time, "We believe that the rooftop solar targets are very ambitious and the current policy push, including this new decision, would likely fall short. A lot more is expected from both the central and the state governments."