Fast-growing solar to overtake wind in total capacity this fiscal

G Balachandar Chennai | Updated on November 16, 2020 Published on November 16, 2020

During October 2020, a total of 406.22 MW of new capacity was added in the renewable energy sector   -  REUTERS

With policy support and falling prices, solar capacity grows 11x in last 5 years

With faster new capacity addition, the solar power segment is expected to surpass the wind segment’s cumulative capacity this fiscal.

The gap between the two clean energy segments has been narrowing and currently stands at about 1,900 plus MW.

During October 2020, a total of 406.22 MW of new capacity was added in the renewable energy (RE) sector, taking the cumulative RE energy capacity to 89.63 GW as on October 31, 2020. In the total capacity, the wind power segment accounted for 38.26 GW, while the total solar capacity’s share was 36.32 GW, according to a Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) document.

Projects with a total capacity of about 50 GW are at various stages of implementation, while projects of 27.41 GW capacity are under various stages of bidding. A major chunk of these projects is in the solar power segment.

Renewable energy

The past five years have seen a massive capacity addition in the renewable energy sector. The total RE capacity has grown from 45,924 MW as of March 31, 2016 to 88,793 MW as of March 31, 2020.

Supported by a favourable government policy framework and falling prices, solar power capacity has grown by more than 11 times in the last five years till March 2019, while wind energy capacity has grown by just 1.7 times in the past four years.

Both solar PV and wind energy are the two most cost-competitive power sources on the grid, priced much lower than fossil-fuel based power.

While the solar segment continues to lead the capacity addition, the wind power segment has been moving at a slow pace.

Wind’s land obstacle

The wind energy segment dominated new capacity addition till a few years ago. The seven states in the country with wind resource have been traditional demand centres and are responsible for most of the installations to date.

However, project activity has declined in the last two years, following the introduction of central auctions. Though solar PV had its own set of associated risks, these were not as severe as those pertaining to land availability for wind energy projects.

“Going forward, wind power installations are expected to remain muted and India may fall short of its 2022 targets due to challenges around pricing, payment risk mitigation, transmission capacity and land use,” says the India Wind Outlook Towards 2022 report.

Meanwhile, it is gathered that more than 15 GW of new utility-scale solar PV and wind capacity projects were sanctioned via competitive tenders during the first half of 2020, almost equivalent to the total amount sanctioned competitively in 2019, indicating sustained interest to invest in the Indian renewable energy sector despite the pandemic.

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Published on November 16, 2020
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