883 MW Solar Rooftop Additions in 2020 So Far Powered By Gujarat

India added 883MW of rooftop solar in first nine months of 2020 despite COVID-19 and implementations of lockdown in different parts of the country, as reported by JMK Analytics, a research firm. These additions owe a lot to moves in Gujarat to push Solar power, even as other states, most starkly neighbouring Maharashtra has not just trailed, but followed downright restrictive practices and policies to stifle any possible rooftop solar growth. It’s the same story in state after state, with reports from Delhi indicating a time period of between 4 months to 6 months and more for activation of residential rooftop connections.

New figures released by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) showed that about 2320MW of solar capacity was added between January and September, with around 1,437MW of that being ground-mount.

But this still fell short of predictions prior to the pandemic, with research groups suggesting nearly 5-8 GW of utility-scale capacity additions were expected in 2020. While these were impacted by unpredictable lockdowns in several states, labour shortages and construction, movement of equipment, and supplies all suffered. But despite the challenges of COVID-19, Gujarat was able to add significant capacity in part because of the Surya Urja Rooftop Yojana – Gujarat, a major government incentive program in the region that targets solar rooftops for eight lakh – or 0.8 million – residential consumers by March 2022. The scheme allows consumers to claim state subsidy of 40% for solar installations up to 3kW, and 20% for 3kW-10kW.

Additionally, a Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) policy brought in September 2019 by the Gujarat state government allows the installation of solar projects with more than 100% of their sanctioned load or contract demand for MSMEs. This helped rooftop solar additions, as the popular policy allows MSMEs to sell excess solar to the State government for Rs.1.75/kWh, and buy solar power from third parties.

A strong rebound of utility-scale solar installations in the subcontinent is not expected until 2021, with capacity additions expected to stay low throughout the second half of this year at just 2.5GW.

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