The year 2019 has started with huge opportunities for solar in India, highlighting 10 GW to 15 GW new capacity additions in the renewable energy sector giving solar majority in this contribution by the end of 2019. Expected growth in utility-scale solar and Indian Government’s recent decision to focus on rooftop solar development will also bring in new opportunities for the solar industry in India.
Predictions also indicate that Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and other solar dominating states will increase their contribution to new capacity addition in 2019, which indicates new installations, job creation, power demand management and overall growth of Indian energy, society, and economic structure. Floating solar projects are also expected to get attention in 2019, as predictions suggest nearly 80 MW of new floating solar capacity addition within 2019.
The rooftop solar sector is also expected to shine, showing nearly 2 GW of new capacity addition in 2019, which is ~40% higher than in 2018. Additionally, solar pumps will have a lead in contributing to this capacity, which is beneficial for a country supported by agriculture. Also, the introduction of battery storage policy in India will play a major role in favouring green energy adoption throughout the country.
Comparison with 2018
Although, in 2018 India claimed 24th rank in World Bank’s Ease of doing business – “Getting Electricity” ranking (from 137 in 2014), the Indian solar industry witnessed sluggish growth in 2018. Research data indicates that more than 35 GW of solar projects were tendered in the country in 2018. Out of that near about 13 GW of projects were auctioned at the end of the year. This stands as a 65% decline in tender activity in Q3 2018, in comparison with Q2 2018.
On the other hand, challenges like- safeguard duty, lack of clarity on GST, BIS standards, power evacuation issues and delays in getting solar parks ready, etc stood as the reasons behind 2018’s slowdown of solar growth in India.
Although 2019 appears to present new opportunities for the industry, we have to understand that the primary issues that led to 2018’s result still exist.
There is continuous solar importing, lack of green energy distribution to the grid, drop in solar tariff, cancellation of projects that are hindering growth.
Focus on Domestic Solar Manufacturing is Needed
Countries that are dominating the solar industry worldwide have understood the fact that building a manufacturing capacity can help their own technological and industrial growth, create jobs while giving them the opportunity to control the cost of the manufacturing, thus undercutting foreign market prices and making huge profits. For example, we can look at China, the US, which have enhanced and acted towards protecting their solar industry.
Now, developing countries like- India have to understand that although imported solar modules and other components may appear cheaper to buy, they are actually robbing a country of the chance to build manufacturing capacity and facilitate overall growth. India currently has 13.8 GW of projects under execution with 22.8 GW of projects to be tendered. Additionally, with rising solar opportunities within the country and abroad (through ISA), it is the right time for India to make the right choice by supporting solar manufacturing.
Solar stands as a great opportunity for developing countries to phase out fossil fuel and its growing expenses while transforming the country with industrial, social, and economic growth. Focusing on domestic manufacturing can afford developing countries the best possible opportunity to become energy self-reliant, creating jobs, reduce forex outflow, forge new trade relations, and gain economic stability. However, the time is now to solve internal issues and invest in solar manufacturing to see the results.