Solar and Wind Account for Over 60% of New Power Capacity Additions in India as of 9M 2017

Solar Accounted for the Bulk of Additions with 39%

November 9, 2017


Solar and Wind accounted for majority of new power capacity additions with renewable energy installations accounting for almost 19 percent of the country’s total installed power as of September 30, 2017. By comparison, renewables accounted for ~15 percent of the total capacity mix during the same period a year earlier. India’s total installed power generation capacity stood at 333.5 GW at the end of the third quarter, with renewables accounting for 62.5 GW.

The latest September figures also show that hydro power made up 13 percent of the total installed power capacity in the country, accounting for 44.8 GW of the total power generated. The numbers also indicate that the cumulative installed capacity of small hydro increased slightly to ~4.4 GW of total installed capacity from ~4.32 GW as of September 2016, while nuclear power had a total capacity of 6.78 GW and made up 2 percent of energy generation.

The solar sector is witnessing installations at a rapid pace this year, and registered the largest gain in its share of installed capacity with over 7 GW installed in the first nine months of 2017, according to Mercom’s India Solar Project Tracker. Solar now accounts for over 17 GW of total installed capacity and represents 5 percent of the overall power capacity mix. By comparison, at the end of September 2016, solar energy accounted for just 2.8 percent of the total power mix, with cumulative installed capacity of 8.5 GW.

India cumulative installed power capacity mix

Wind accounted for 32.7 GW of total installed capacity and nearly 10 percent of the overall power capacity mix as of September 2017. That is up from the 28 GW of installed capacity and just over 9 percent of the overall power capacity mix in September 2016.

A steady transformation is currently underway in India’s energy sector. Renewable energy capacity additions are rising while thermal power’s share of the overall energy mix is gradually declining. The transition away from coal appeared to be speeding up recently with the cancellation of 14 GW of coal projects due to cost overruns. Coal previously accounted for more than 60 percent of the power generated in India but coal’s contribution has fallen to 58 percent.

At the end of FY2016-17, solar had recorded the largest increase with its share of total installed capacity rising from 2.3 percent at the end of FY 2015-16 to 3.8 percent as of March 31, 2017, an increase of 1.5 percent; followed by a 1 percent increase in the share of wind capacity. Meanwhile, coal’s share of the power mix slumped the most, decreasing by 2.5 percent.

Solar’s Share of the Renewables Mix

Among renewables, solar accounts for over 27 percent of installed capacity, up from 18.5 percent as of September 2016.

New Power Capacity Additions: 9M 2017

Solar was the leading source of new power capacity additions in the first nine months of 2017, with installed capacity of over 7 GW accounting for 39 percent of total power capacity additions, followed by Wind with 21.8% of power capacity additions.

Share of new power generating capacity additions in India

The chart above provides an illustration of the energy transformation taking place in India, and shows that solar is currently on track to be the leading new power generation source in 2017.

But market conditions for solar have reversed in the third quarter as higher module prices, the threat of anti-dumping tariffs, uncertainty surrounding GST rates, and PPA renegotiations have slowed down tender activity. Due to these challenges, solar installations are expected to decline in 2018.