Indian Installations To Double By 2015
Mercom Capital Group released its quarterly update on the Indian solar market and revealed that cumulative solar installations in India crossed the 3 GW mark with 734 MW installed so far this year. However, 2014 will be a disappointment with calendar year installations forecasted at about 800 MW, a 20 percent drop year-over-year. Land acquisition delays due to elections and uncertainty caused by the anti-dumping case contributed to a slowdown in installations. Mercom is forecasting 2015 installations to more than double in 2015, reaching approximately 1,800 MW.
"The Indian solar industry is visibly upbeat since the elections and especially after getting past the anti-dumping case," commented Raj Prabhu, CEO and Co-Founder of Mercom Capital Group. "Recent cancellations of coal mining licenses by the Supreme Court amid rising coal imports and increasing costs, and continuing power shortages have all contributed to the positive momentum in the solar sector," stated Raj.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) released a new installation goal of 15 GW by 2019 via solar parks (a large area and infrastructure set aside by states to accommodate installations of 500-1,000 MW) to be set up by states in three tranches. A revised draft for Phase II, Batch 2, Tranche I Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) projects was released with a target of 3,000 MW.
There have been other announcements in a short period of time; a new program aimed at "˜ultra mega solar projects' with a goal of installing 20 GW by establishing solar parks was announced recently. MNRE has also asked Public Sector Units (PSUs) to set up large solar projects to meet RPO obligations. At the request of the Prime Minister's office, MNRE is also working on a plan to increase JNNSM installation goal to a staggering 100 GW of solar.
By focusing exclusively on large-scale and mega solar projects, India is going in the opposite direction compared to other markets. In most major solar markets, with drop in costs, the market has shifted from large-scale projects to residential and commercial rooftop projects - closer to the end-user. With transmission and distribution losses estimated at about 25 percent, and considering the country is severely challenged when it comes to land availability and grid infrastructure this may not be a sound long-term strategy.
Since the inception of JNNSM in 2010, there has never been a shortage of big goals and announcements. Two primary challenges have been execution and uncertainty, due to the lack of long-term market visibility. A renewed government focus to address these challenges would give confidence to the markets, and help attract sorely needed foreign investments. That said, prospects for the Indian solar sector have never looked better and the Modi administration's strong commitment towards solar has percolated to states, evidenced by the sense of urgency and seriousness being shown by state administrations towards solar, the likes of which we have not seen in the last five years.