India to add 9GW as PV build gathers pace, says analyst

India will remain one of the fastest growing solar PV markets around the world in 2017 even as other major markets slow down, said a leading analyst in the country.

According to forecasts from Bridge to India, total new capacity additions of over 9GW are predicted for the coming year, up 90% on 2016 figures.

In addition, up to 8GW of new utility-scale capacity allocations by Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and states including Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are envisaged, attracting lower tariff bids.

For example, SECI is to launch a tender for 1GW of new PV rooftop capacity for central government ministries and departments in the new year, forming part of India’s overall plans for 40GW of rooftop solar by 2022.

As solar tariffs fell below five rupees/kWh ($0.07/kWh), solar power gained parity with other sources of greenfield power, Bridge to India concludes, noting: “We expect the four rupees tariff level to be breached in early 2017, which will be a radical moment for the entire power sector in India.”

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However, Bridge to India says it remains pessimistic about new domestic manufacturing policy in India and has expressed further concerns over growing incidences of delayed power purchase payments by many distribution companies, and curtailment risk.

The analysis notes that while the solar sector has been lucky to escape so far, these risks pose significant challenges.

In its end of year summary, the analysis firm noted that India had added a total solar capacity of some 4.9GW during 2016, an increase of 101% on 2015 figures. This increase saw the total installed PV capacity cross the 10GW threshold.

India’s rooftop solar segment also exceeded the 1GW mark in 2016, growing by 135% over the previous year. Attractive capital subsidies and substantial demand from public sector are expected to continue to provide a demand boost to the segment over the next few years.

New tenders were also floated for 9GW of grid-connected solar projects including 900MW for rooftop solar systems.

India is chasing a solar target of 100GW installed by 2022.