2021 Carries All Solar Hopes In India, With Expected 8.8 GW Capacity Addition

A fresh quarterly update from a research agency pegs expected solar capacity addition in the calendar year 2020 (Jan-Dec) at  2.8 GW, while Wind Energy is expected to add just 1.2 GW. However, things should start looking up from the next two quarters itself, i.e. Q4 2020 and Q1 2021, when about 4 GW of new solar capacity, 1.8 GW of new wind capacity and 790 MW of hybrid projects should see commissioning. That’s the stark, yet the hopeful message from the quarterly report of JMK Research and Analytics.

With total cumulative solar capacity expected to hit barely 38 GW by this year-end, the projections once again offer a very stark reminder that despite every assurance to the contrary by the MNRE ministry, almost no one in the industry believes India will get close to its 100GW target for solar by 2022.

That is because even after taking into account the current pipeline of solar, wind and hybrid projects, which stands at 49 GW, with 18 GW of projects still under the bidding phase, the numbers are simply getting further out of reach every month. Keep in mind that a significant share of the pipeline is also suspect, due to cancellations or disputes that are likely to cause further delays.

Rooftop solar, which could have played a saviour if the relevant authorities had only cared to shower the same attention on it as for utility-scale solar, will add close to 1 GW this year with luck, after adding 883 MW by September 30.

Thus, in Q3 2020, 32 new tenders aggregating to a total capacity of 7.2 GW were issued across the solar and wind segment, while the rooftop solar segment saw just 10 new tenders of 40 MW.

What that means is that the predicted overtaking of wind capacity by solar may not happen this year, but next year.  The delay caused mainly by the sharp drop in both solar and wind capacity additions, more so for solar.

The report claims that Chinese brands continue to dominate, with Longi Solar leading in module supplies, while Sungrow led in the inverter segment.

Interestingly, prices continued to trend lower in Q3, with the price for Chinese multi-crystalline modules (excluding GST and safeguard duty) at about 17.5 -18.2 US cents/ Wp in Q3 2020. This is about a 13 percent decline from Q3 2019 prices. Prices for mono modules were placed at about 20-21 US cents/ Wp in Q3 2020. The good news? About 50 percent of module shipments seem to have been Mono Perc, showing a welcome shift to better quality modules.

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