India 2014 PV additions 'to fall again'

Solar installations in India are forecast to fall in 2014 for the second straight year, amid delays to both national and state-wide PV incentive programmes.

India will add 750MW of PV capacity this year, its worst showing since 2011, as critical statewide policies fail to live up to their promise, according to market researcher Bridge to India.

India added 905MW of new PV capacity in 2013, down 9% from its record performance of 982MW in 2012.

Nearly half of last year’s capacity came on line during the first quarter of 2013, as projects under the first phase of the National Solar Mission were dragged across the finish line.

Over the final nine months of the year, India averaged just 166MW of quarterly additions, as the pipeline of Phase 1 NSM projects dried up.

The NSM was never expected to contribute much to India’s PV market in 2014, given the timing of its bidding rounds.

But that reality has been further cemented by ongoing delays to the bidding deadline for the 750MW “Phase 2, Batch 1” NSM round – recently postponed for the second time to 20 January, from the original deadline in late November.

Bridge to India predicts that zero capacity will be added under the NSM this year, although significant investment decisions will be taken for projects to be brought on line in 2015.

Despite its perceived importance to India’s solar ambitions over the coming years, less than one-quarter of India’s 2.1GW of existing PV capacity has come under the NSM.

In contrast, roughly half of the country’s capacity has been added under state-wide policy schemes, most of it in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh states.

However, statewide policies will suffer from ongoing “confusion and delays” this year, says Bridge to India, weighing heavily on the country’s emerging solar industry.

Another challenge for Indian developers is the rising cost of procuring modules, with average prices up 15% in the past year due to the weakened rupee and fast-growing demand in rival Asian markets like Japan and China.

Of the 750MW of capacity to be auctioned off in the NSM’s “Phase 2, Batch 1” round in the coming months, half will be reserved for projects that have pledged to use domestically made cells and modules.