‘2019 was a lost year for India’s solar sector’

Our Bureau Hyderabad | Updated on February 19, 2020

Demand outlook for 2020 looks brighter: Report

India installed 7,346 MW of solar power during 2019, a 12 per cent decline year-on-year compared with 8,338 MW installed in 2018.

“Large-scale solar projects accounted for 85 per cent of installations with 6,242 MW and saw a 7 per cent Y-o-Y decline; rooftop solar made up the remaining 15 per cent, adding 1,104 MW, a 33 per cent drop Y-o-Y,” according to the Q4 and Annual 2019 India Solar Market Update from Mercom India Research.

Karnataka tops solar power in 2019 with 1.8 GW, followed by Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. Together, these three States accounted for almost 70 per cent of solar installations in 2019.

“The demand outlook for 2020 looks better with a stronger project pipeline, and we should see the solar market resume year-on-year growth again. But a lot will depend on the economy and the lending situation getting back on track, the impact of coronavirus, and the outcome of the 20 per cent basic Customs duty announced in the recent Budget,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group.

At the end of 2019, cumulative solar installations reached almost 35.7 GW. Large-scale projects accounted for 31.3 GW (87.6 per cent), whereas rooftop solar installations accounted for 4.4 GW (12.4 per cent).

The large-scale solar project development pipeline stands at 23.7 GW, with 31.5 GW of projects tendered and pending auction at the end of Q4 2019.

Installations on the rise

The solar market added 1,897 MW in Q4 2019, a 12.8 per cent decrease compared to 2,177 MW installed in Q3 2019. However, installations were up by 15.6 per cent compared to 1,641 MW in Q4 2018. In Q4 2019, large-scale solar projects came to 1,593 MW and rooftop solar installations were 304 MW, up 24.1 per cent compared to 245 MW in Q3 2019.

Rooftop installations declined for the first time in five years. After five consecutive years of decline, coal accounted for a majority of the power installations with 7.8 GW, making up 44.1 per cent of the installed capacity, followed by solar with 7.3 GW, wind with 2.4 GW and small hydro and other renewables with 154 MW and 82.5 MW respectively. Even with coal installations rising, renewables collectively still made up a majority of the installations in 2019.

While 2019 was a lost year for India’s solar sector, Mercom expects solar installations to rise by 17 per cent Y-o-Y to approximately 8.5 GW by the end of 2020.

Mercom also estimates solar installations in the 65-70 GW range by 2022 based on current market conditions. The government has set a solar installation target of 100 GW by 2022.

Solar accounted for 41 per cent of new power capacity additions in 2019, behind coal which accounted for 44 per cent.

Published on February 19, 2020

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