India tops 8.6 GW of solar, ratifies Paris agreement

New analysis by Mercom Capital Group has revealed that India’s cumulative solar capacity has reached 8,643 MW as of September, with the analysts forecasting the country to end 2016 having installed 4.8 GW of new capacity.

The calendar year up to now has seen India add 3.8 GW of new solar, Mercom says, with some 500 MW added in the month since the last Mercom report. By region, there are now four India states that have more than 1 GW of capacity installed – Tamil Nadu (which accounts for 19% of all Indian solar capacity), Rajasthan (15%), Gujarat (13%) and Andhra Pradesh (12%).

These four states comprise 59% of India’s installed solar base, Mercom says.

Charged with reaching 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022, such progress, though welcome, needs to be expedited. India’s solar pipeline stands at 21 GW, of which 14 GW comprises solar – mostly PV – projects at advanced stages of development, with the remainder up for auction soon.

The chief challenges facing solar’s growth remain a decline in power demand a the availability of cheap power on the exchanges – power that cash-strapped Discoms turn to in favor of solar.

“The challenge is going to come next year when approximately 9 GW of solar power is forecast to be installed. Unless the ‘must run’ status for solar projects is strictly enforced we are going to see some challenges,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group.

India introduced its “Must Run” rules for solar in the hope of ensuring the technology received preferential treatment when it came to grid access. Thus far, this policy has been loosely enforced, with economics trumping environmental concerns.

Paris ratifies COP21

All this could be set to change, however, following India’s ratification of the Paris Agreement struck last year at COP21.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet waited until Sunday, October 2, to coincide the ratification of the agreement with the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Indian officials confirmed that the nation’s aim is to be a global leader in the deployment of solar and wind power, but stressed that the country requires further financial aid to reach its lofty goals.

According to Manish Bapna, the executive vice president of the World Resource Institute, India requires more than $2.5 trillion to meet its renewable energy target of 175 GW installed by 2022. To raise this figure, foreign investment is going to be key, said Bapna.

In recent weeks, the majority of the world’s largest emitters of global greenhouse gases – including China, the U.S. and the EU – have ratified the Paris Greement, which pledges to reduce emissions in order to limit global temperature rises to below 2C by 2050.