India likely to miss year’s solar capacity target

April 13, 2022 12:00 am | Updated 05:42 am IST - New Delhi

Report cites inadequate uptake of rooftop solar as among the reasons for the shortfall

A man checking rooftop solar panels installed in Puducherry.

A man checking rooftop solar panels installed in Puducherry.

India is likely to miss its 2022 target of installing 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar power capacity, largely due to inadequate uptake of rooftop solar, according to a report by JMK Research and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

As of December 2021, India’s cumulative installed solar capacity was 55 GW, with grid-connected utility-scale projects making up 77% of the total and the rest from grid-connected rooftop solar (20%) and mini or micro off-grid projects (3%).

With just eight months of 2022 remaining, only about 50% of the 100GW target, consisting of 60 GW of utility-scale and 40 GW of rooftop solar capacity, has been met.

Capacity addition

Approximately 19 GW of solar capacity is expected to be added in 2022 — 15.8 GW from utility-scale and 3.5 GW from rooftop solar.

“Even with this capacity addition, about 27% of India’s 100 GW solar target would be unmet,” Jyoti Gulia, founder, JMK Research, and a co-author of the report, said in a statement.

The analysis projects a 25 GW shortfall in the 40 GW rooftop solar target, compared to just 1.8 GW in the utility-scale solar target by December 2022.

“Utility-scale solar capacity addition is on track. India is set to achieve nearly 97% of its 60 GW target,” says Ms. Gulia. “This makes it imperative to have a more concerted effort towards expanding rooftop solar.”

Solar capacity is a major prong of India’s commitment to address global warming according to the terms of the Paris Agreement, as well as achieving net zero, or no net carbon emissions, by 2070.

Many challenges

Factors impeding rooftop solar installation include pandemic-induced supply chain disruption to policy restrictions, regulatory roadblocks; net metering limits; the twin burdens of basic customs duty (BCD) on imported cells and modules and issues with the Approved List of Models and Manufacturers (ALMM); unsigned power supply agreements (PSAs) and banking restrictions; financing issues plus delays in or rejection of open access approval grants; and the unpredictability of future open access charges.

“The anticipated 27 GW shortfall from the 2022 solar target can be attributed to a string of challenges which are slowing overall progress on renewable energy targets,” says co-author Vibhuti Garg, Energy Economist and Lead India, IEEFA.

To get back on track, the report proposes “short and long-term measures.

These include uniform policies to apply nationally for at least the next five years, consistent regulations for net metering and banking facilities, which should apply nationally, strictly enforcing renewable purchase obligations (RPO) of companies.

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