Energy

COVID-19: Solar power capacity addition falls short of targets, flags report

India added 989 MW of solar power generation capacity first quarter of 2020 — a third of total target supposed to be commissioned 

 
By Kundan Pandey
Last Updated: Tuesday 02 June 2020
India added 989 MW of solar power generation capacity Q1 2020 — a third of total target supposed to be commissioned. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

India added 989 megawatt (MW) of solar power generation capacity in the first quarter of 2020 — a third of the total target that was supposed to be commissioned — due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) disruption, according to a clean energy consultancy Bridge To India report published on June 1, 2020. 

The report, titled Lockdown Hurts added that the impact will be visible in coming months as well — as COVID-19 impact continues to capsize several energy sectors.

India’s total installed capacity reached 37,916 MW by March 31, 2020. The report predicted very slow progress in the coming six months with capacity addition of only 500 MW and 1,184 MW in the second and third quarter respectively.

India added 689 MW to utility scale solar, bringing it to 32,176 MW as on March 31, 2020; and 300 MW to rooftop solar, bringing it to 5,740 MW, the report stated.

A utility-scale solar facility is one which generates solar power and feeds it into the grid, supplying a utility with energy. 

The sector’s total off-grid solar capacity was 978 MW by March 31, according to the report.

A total of 1,864 MW of utility scale solar capacity was scheduled to be commissioned in the first three months of 2020. The 689 MW capacity added included 19 projects split between central government tenders, state government and other projects.

At least 257 MW of the addition was in the Centre’s account, which was 37 per cent of total addition done in Q1. While the state governments added 415 MW (60 per cent) and other projects added 18 MW (3 per cent).

Utility scale solar capacity addition (MW). Source: Bridge to India research

The Indian government imposed the most stringent lockdown on March 25, putting all commercial and business activity to a sudden halt. The report stated that even when project construction was allowed to commence from April 20, significant slippage in commissioning progress was likely due to constraints in equipment and labour availability.

Rooftop solar projects have been hit badly with only 300 MW of estimated capacity addition in Q1 2020, according to the report.

It may take long to recover due to slowdown in the market when consumers’ priority will be core business and conserve cash, the report said. It estimated that only 360 MW may get added to it by September, 2020.

The lockdown has had severe impact on power consumption as well, causing it fall drastically in last few months. “If demand remains depressed, as widely expected in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, renewable power prospects would be seriously affected,” the report stated.

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