India’s cumulative solar capacity tops 12 GW, says energy minister

India has reached yet another milestone on its energy transition pathway, taking its aggregate solar power generation capacity to 12,288 MW in the fiscal year just passed.

The country has abundant solar power potential that has been estimated at 748 GW, said New & Renewable Energy Minister Piyush Goyal in a written statement to Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India.

India has been steadily growing its solar footprint from a mere 1,686 MW of combined capacity in 2012-13 to 2,632 MW in 2013-14, through to 2014-15, when it reached 3,744 MW.

In the wake of Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s announcement of the country’s 100 GW solar target by 2022, including 40 GW of rooftop systems and 60 GW of ground-mounted plants, multi-GW trade announcements, many of which came from foreign investors that had recognized the appeal of India’s bullish market, started pouring in.

This ushered the breakthrough year of 2015-16, which saw the combined installed capacity of 6,763 MW.

In terms of installed capacity across the country, the list is currently topped by the state of Andhra Pradesh with 1,867 MW, followed by Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu with 1,812 MW and 1,691 MW respectively.

Wind and solar surpass set targets in capacity addition, taking a huge step towards achieving 24X7 affordable Power for All, Minister Goyal tweeted on Monday.

In a separate statement, Minister Goyal said that in the ongoing fiscal year the government plans to add 5,000 MW of rooftop solar and 10,000 MW of large-scale solar power projects.

Although the current capacity figure is undoubtedly impressive, recalling Prime Minister Modi’s announcements at the COP 21 climate talks in Paris that 2016 alone would see 12 GW of solar capacity added, shows that despite the government’s proactive support in the form of cheaper renewable energy certificates and a broader solar park target, the country is falling behind its green energy targets under the burden of red tape and inadequate infrastructure.