Solar Now the Top Renewable Energy Source, Surpasses Large Hydro

Solar's installed capacity reaches 46.8 MW as of October 31, 2021


Solar is now the top renewable energy source in India, with 46.8 GW of installed capacity. Solar energy has overtaken large hydro, which had an installed capacity of 46.51 GW as of October 31, 2021, according to data from Mercom’s India Solar Project Tracker, Central Electricity Authority (CEA), and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).

India’s total installed power capacity is 390.17 GW as of October 31, 2021. Of this, renewables, including large hydro, accounts for around 149 GW or 38.2% of the country’s installed capacity. Solar energy accounted for 12% of the installed capacity across all sources and 31.47% of the installed renewable energy capacity. Large hydro represented 11.9% of the overall installed power capacity.

Solar installations overtook wind early this year.

Power mix

Wind, bio-power, and small hydro accounted for 10.2%, 2.7%, and 1.2% of the total installed power capacity, respectively.

Coal continued to lead the way with 202.41 GW of installed capacity, or 51.9% of the total installed power capacity in the country.

Power mix


In early 2019, the Ministry of Power decided to include large hydro power projects over 25 MW under the category of renewable energy. At the time, cumulative hydropower installations stood at 45.4 GW and made up for 12.9% of India’s total installed power capacity. As of October 31, 2021, the cumulative capacity has risen to 46.5 GW accounting for 11.9% of the installed power capacity.

In February 2021, the Ministry notified that states have to now meet specific renewable purchase obligation (RPO) targets, including large hydropower projects commissioned after March 08, 2019, to help achieve the target of 30 GW of hydropower by 2029-30.

NHPC Limited, one of India’s largest hydropower generation companies, owns 15% of the installed hydropower projects (6,971 MW out of 46,512 MW). The company is also actively pursuing setting up solar power projects. The company expects to commission an 800 MW project in the financial year (FY) 2022-23 and 2,500 MW in FY 2023-24.

Solar and Hydropower projections

According to the CEA, India will likely add 493 MW of hydropower capacity in FY 2021-22 and 1,580 MW in FY 2022-23.

Solar capacity additions for the calendar year 2021 are expected to be about 8-9 GW and more than 13 GW in 2022, according to Mercom’s Solar Quarterly Market Update.

Harsh Shukla is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Previously with Indian Express, he has covered general interest stories. He holds a Masters Degree in Journalism from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune.

More articles from Harsh Shukla.