Solar installations have slowed down in April–October 2023, to 5,238 MW, compared with 7,628 MW in the corresponding 7-month period of 2022.

As of October 31, India has 72,018 MW of solar capacity, including grid connected rooftop and solar part of wind-solar hybrid.

Industry experts are themselves surprised about the slow pace of installations – less than 1,000 MW a month – considering that developers can use the cheap imported solar modules only before March 31, 2024—the date the “ALMM waiver” expires. 

After that date, manufacturers who wish to sell modules in India should get themselves an entry into the Approved List of Modules and Manufacturers (ALMM). An “ALMM waiver” has been granted to developers till March 31, 2024. By all accounts, the government intends to use the ALMM mechanism to protect the domestic module manufacturers from the onslaught of cheap imports. Therefore, the government might extend the waiver, but no one can bet on it. 

Industry insiders, therefore, expect an uptick in installations in the coming four-and-a-half months. Srivatsan Iyer, Global CEO, Hero Future Energies told businessline today that many developers, who had already bought imported modules, will be rushing to complete installations before March end. 

Subrahmanyam Pulipaka, CEO, National Solar Energy Federation of India, told businessline that he expects the current financial year to end with 17 GW of solar installations, but observed that the “worst case scenario will be 12 GW.” 

Capacity auctions brisk 

Pulipaka observed that tendering activity, or capacity auctions, are “like never before”, implying that installations next year will be much higher. About 10-15 GW of firm power (wind-solar-battery) tenders are to happen in the next 3-4 months, says Iyer. 

The renewable energy industry is tilting towards firm power, hybrid capacity construction, away from pure solar or wind. 

Developers have never had it so good, with module prices at ultra-low levels – about 14 cents a Watt-peak – and falling battery prices. 

In auctions completed earlier this month, the government company, SJVN, discovered a price of ₹4.38 a kWhr for firm, renewable power. ACME Cleantech Solutions won 250 MW, while Juniper Green and Tata Power Renewables won 200 MW each, quoting ₹4.38 a kWhr. ReNew (184 MW), Solarcraft (150 MW) and Hero Future Energy (120 MW) picked up their capacities quoting ₹4.39.

Industry experts note that the price of firm renewable energy falling below the ₹4.50-mark, with a downward bias, indicates a bright future for renewable energy.