Solar Crosses 40 GW Mark in India, Renewable Capacity at 94.43 GW

MNRE in its monthly summary to the cabinet for March 2021 has revealed that the installed solar capacity in India has crossed the 40 GW mark

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in its monthly summary to the cabinet for the month of March 2021 has revealed that the installed and operational solar capacity in India has crossed the 40 GW mark, reaching 40.09 GW at the end of the month. And cumulative renewable energy capacity (installed) reached 94.93 MW.

According to the monthly report, a total of 1463.31 MW of renewable energy capacity was added, taking the cumulative installed RE capacity to 94.43 GW as of March 31, 2021. This includes 40.09 GW of solar capacity, followed closely by 39.24 GW of wind capacity, and then 10.31 GW of Bio-power and 4.79 GW of small hydro capacity. 

The ministry has stated that projects of 49.7 GW capacity are at various stages of implementation, while projects of 25.91 GW capacity are under various stages of bidding.

In March, advocating for the other end of the argument, the Standing Committee on Energy (SCOE) while expressing its displeasure on the pace with which the MNRE had progressed so far in the solar energy sector during the last 10 years, had recommended that the Ministry to speedily work out a strategic plan to achieve the target of 100 GW solar energy within the deadline of 2022 which is approaching very fast.

The SCOE had stated that after more than 10 years of the launch of the National Solar Mission in the year 2010 and subsequent declaration in the year 2015 of the target of 100 GW solar Energy as a part of the mission of achieving 175 GW renewable energy by the year 2022, the Government has been able to install only 38.79 GW of solar energy in the country upto January 31, 2021.

To this accusation, the ministry had stated at the time that a further 36.03 GW (as of January 31, 2021) of solar projects are under various stages of implementation and 23.87 GW are in the tendering process. However, the parliamentary panel believes that the real test lies in their actual commissioning within the scheduled time frame.

Financially, MNRE detailed that an expenditure of Rs 3096.73 crore has been incurred up to March 31, 2021, which is around 86.24 percent of the total Revised Estimate (RE) for the Ministry for the year 2020-21.

In this matter, the SCOE in its ‘Demand for Grants 2021-22’ report for the MNRE at the beginning of March had opined that the variation in budgetary allocations at the stage of revised estimates and low utilisation of even the decreased allocated amounts under various heads are symptomatic of poor financial planning by the MNRE.

In its findings, the committee had observed that the Gross Budgetary Support to the Ministry was substantially decreased at the time of revised estimates. The allocation was reduced by about 26 percent during the year 2019-20 and about 38 percent for 2020-21. However, it also found that the Ministry had not been able to fully utilise even the decreased allocations during the previous years. It could utilise 86.97 percent, 91.53 percent, and 69.78 percent of revised budgetary allocations during the years 2018-19, 2019-20, and 2020-21 (upto January 2021) respectively.

“The Committee finds it very strange that funds are un-spent in such an important and dynamic sector with a huge target of 175 GW to be achieved by the year 2022. Non-utilisation of budgeted funds is unacceptable in a Country where budgetary resources are limited and so many dream projects are to be completed with prudent financial planning and therefore it is of utmost importance that the budgetary allocations are fully and properly utilised,” the report stated.

Key highlights from the month:

  • In order to give further impetus to domestic manufacturing, the Government had agreed to impose Basic Customs Duty (BCD) on the import of solar PV cells and solar PV modules, with effect from April 1, 2022. On March 9, 2021, the ministry had announced a 25 percent BCD on solar PV cells and 40 percent duty on solar modules without grandfathering of bid-out projects.
  • In order to ensure the reliability of solar PV modules being deployed in India, MNRE had established a mechanism of enlistment of solar PV cells and modules (Approved list of Models and Manufacturers or ALMM) after a thorough inspection of the manufacturing facilities. The ALMM Order was issued on January 2, 2019. And the first list under this Order, List-I for models and manufacturers of modules, was published on March 10, 2021.
  • The Ministry vide order dated March 08, 2021, circulated the Draft Policy Framework for developing and promoting Decentralized Renewable Energy (DRE) Livelihood Applications for comments of stakeholders.
  • The Ministry vide its order dated March 30, 2021, issued a clarification regarding Time Extension in Scheduled Commissioning Date of Renewable Energy (RE) Projects considering the disruption due to COVID-19. It was clarified that the total extension provided by implementing agencies on account of COVID-19 should in no case be more than 6 months including the 5-month blanket extension given earlier by this Ministry vide its O.M. of August 13, 2020. In case an implementing agency feels that there is a requirement to give an extension beyond 6 months, it shall make a reference for consideration of this Ministry with due justification and supporting documents.
  • The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) had issued the Letters of Award (LoA) for 1200 MW ISTS-connected wind power projects on March 19, 2021.

PC: Amp Energy

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Ayush Verma

Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.

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