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Solar outshines wind power in total capacity

G Balachandar Chennai | Updated on February 21, 2021

Solar power may match coal’s share in the energy mix within two decades, but India will need a whole host of technologies and policies to chart this new path   -  REUTERS

Measures unveiled in Budget along with PLI scheme likely to boost sector further

In a significant development in the renewable space, solar power has overtaken wind power in terms of total installed capacity.

A decade ago, the solar segment had a capacity of just 18 MW, while wind power’s installed capacity was at 13,000 MW.

As of January 31, 2021, the total installed capacity of solar power stood at 38,794 MW (including 34,561 MW of ground-mounted capacity and 4,233 MW of rooftop capacity).

However, the total wind power capacity was 38,684 MW, according to data from the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

Rapid growth

While the recent decade belonged to solar power, the past five years have seen exponential growth in solar capacity addition in India, driven by supportive government policies, a favourable ecosystem and higher investments.

As of March 31, 2016, the total installed capacity of wind power stood at 26,744 MW and solar power capacity was at 6,763 MW.

The solar segment remains a major driver of new capacity addition in the renewable space.

With the addition of 5,473 MW (including 4,116 MW of new solar capacity) during the 10-month period of this fiscal, India’s total grid-connected renewable capacity stood at 92,550 MW.

“We expect annual additions of 10–12 GW of solar over the next three years. Some of the key monitorables for this capacity addition are sustained availability of debt capital and timely closure of power sale agreements for auctions concluded at tariffs above the current lowest bid prices,” said Manish Gupta, Senior Director, Crisil Ratings.

Meanwhile, measures announced in the latest budget along with the production-linked incentive scheme (PLI) are expected to give a further fillip to the solar industry to meet its capacity target of 100 GW of solar power by next year.

To support renewable sector growth, an additional capital infusion of ₹1,000 crore to Solar Energy Corporation India (SECI) has been provided and that will enable SECI to float 15,000 MW of tenders on a yearly basis. On a yearly basis, it will attract investment of more than ₹60,000 crore, generate employment of 45,000 job years and reduce emissions of 28.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year. The capital infusion will also enable SECI to set up innovative projects with an investment of around ₹17,000 crore.

Additional loan facility

Also, ₹1,500 crore equity infusion to IREDA would help it extend an additional loan facility of ₹12,000 crore. The move will help improve IREDA’s capital adequacy which will help it in borrowing at a lower rate of interest, thus lowering the interest rates for developers. It will also help finance around 4,500 MW of RE projects worth ₹18,000 to ₹19,000 crore.

“India is already a global leader in solar power and solar combined with batteries will play a massive part in the country’s energy future. Solar power is set for explosive growth, matching coal power’s share in the Indian power generation mix within two decades. But India will need a whole host of technologies and policies to chart this new path,” pointed out India Energy Outlook 2021 report.

The share of renewable energy (excluding large hydro) in the total electricity generation in the country was about 11 per cent during 2020-21 (up to Dec’2020).

Published on February 21, 2021

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