The renewable energy sector in the country reported a 72 per cent drop in new capacity addition during the first quarter of this fiscal when compared with the year-ago period, on the back of Covid-19 disruption in the supply chain and other challenges faced by the sector.

The segment added just 592 MW of new capacity during April-June 2020 (2,151 MW). The new addition in Q1 of this fiscal was one of the lowest quarterly addition in the recent years.

The solar power segment remains a major driver of new capacity growth in renewable energy industry and accounted for bulk of the capacity in Q1 at 495 MW (including 192 MW of ground-mounted and 302 MW rooftop capacities), according to Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) data.

This is the first-time rooftop segment has added more capacity than the ground-mounted segment in a quarter. In the year ago period, solar segment brought 1,369 MW (1,115 MW of ground-mounted and 254 MW of rooftop capacities) of new capacity. “While the pandemic presents short-term challenges to every industry, there is a lot of talk today about Covid-19 actually accelerating the global transition to renewable energy. This is primarily because the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated many of the risks in the fossil fuel industry, including oil & gas as well as coal power generation,” said Andrew Hines, Co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer, CleanMax.

During Q1 of this fiscal, wind power segment added about 86 MW (743 MW). As on June 30, total grid-connected installed renewable power capacity in India stood at 87,669 MW (80,467 MW).

“Project acquisition activity, typically a sign of health in the solar sector, declined significantly in June quarter,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group.

MNRE has set a capacity addition target of 11,000 MW (9,000 MW ground mounted projects and 2,000 MW via rooftops) for solar power segment this fiscal, while the wind power segment is expected to bring in about 3,000 MW of capacity.

India has been highly dependent on Chinese solar modules with 80 per cent of module requirement imported from China. However, Indian government has decided to reduce dependency on imports. MNRE will impose a basic customs duty (BCD) beginning August, 2020 on solar modules, solar cells and solar inverters in order to encourage and develop local manufacturing & the supply chain sector in the country.

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