Indian solar power installations in calendar year 2014 totaled 883 MW, down 12 percent compared to 1,004 MW installed in 2013.
Mercom’s 2015 forecast is unchanged at approximately 1,800 MW with some upside. The Indian solar industry remains positive as solar programs are being announced with increased frequency and the installation goal continues to grow.
The 100 GW solar installation goal set recently by the Modi government has thrilled the sector, but the industry is pragmatic and realizes that while 100 GW looks great on paper, the last five years have resulted in only 3,000 MW in solar installations, with last year’s installations at less than 1 GW.
“Most of the industry is confused as they are constantly bombarded with new policies, goals, drafts and revisions,” commented Raj Prabhu, CEO and Co-Founder of Mercom Capital Group. “The last time the National Solar Mission (NSM) conducted a solar auction was in October 2013 – the industry just wants to see execution.”
“The two most impactful steps the government can take to help the solar industry take off and bring substantial investments into the sector would be to: 1) fix the financial health of DISCOM’s [utilities] and thereby improve the credit rating of offtakers, and 2) classify ‘renewables’ as a priority lending sector in India, making more funds available for solar,” continued Prabhu.
A large portion of 2015 installations are expected to come from the 700 MW Phase II Batch 1 projects, which are due to be commissioned in May of this year. Also, looking at the timeline for the last Batch, it takes approximately 19 months from RFS (request for submission) approval to the commissioning date, which means that for 2016 to be a big year the next three months will be crucial for these policies to be finalized and RFS’ approved.
Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) released another revised draft for Batch 2 for 3,000 MW of PV projects recently, and issued draft guidelines to set up 2,000 MW of grid-connected solar PV power projects under NSM Phase II Batch 3 – “State Specific VGF Scheme.”
Other solar programs announced by MNRE include the plan to set up ‘Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects’ in 25 Solar Parks, each with a capacity of 500 MW or larger, targeting 20,000 MW of installed capacity over a span of five years beginning in FY 2014-15. Under Batch 5 (note: there is no Batch 4) the plan is to set up grid-connected solar PV power projects by the Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSUs) and Government of India organizations’ for self-use or third-party sale, with viability gap funding (VGF) over a span of three years from FYs 2014-15 to 2016-17. More than 300 MW of grid-connected and off-grid solar PV power projects are proposed to be set up by Defense Establishments with VGF in five years, from 2014-2019. MNRE has also launched a program to develop 100 MW of grid-connected solar PV power projects on canal banks and canal tops.
“The Modi government has brought policy momentum to the solar industry. The sector is now looking for quick implementation, competent execution and actual installations,” further commented Prabhu.