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Lacklustre year in store for solar sector

According to reports, even as the global solar market is forecast to grow at about 20 per cent in 2013, the domestic solar sector is likely to end the calendar year with a modest rise or flat growth in new capacity addition. However, 2014 is projected to be better with lot of actions expected through States’ schemes.

“This calendar year has been a quiet year for the Indian solar sector, with installations at 900 MW so far in 2013, and the final numbers are projected to be similar to 2012,’’ points out Mercom Capital, a global clean energy communications and consulting firm.

With 420 MW of CSP (concentrated solar power) projects missing commissioning dates, India is not likely to register any significant year-over-year installation growth for 2013,” it adds.

The solar capacity addition hit the slow lane during 2013 on the back of weak economic scenario.

This year solar market has also seen high inflation, about 8 per cent rise in module prices and about 15 per cent rupee depreciation, all of which contributed to overall project cost rise. “Meanwhile, reverse auctions in India continue to defy odds and go in the opposite direction with record low bidding, especially in States that have an L1 type bidding mechanism (lowest bid must be matched by all) in place.

Current economic conditions, solar irradiance and off-taker creditworthiness do not look to be reflected in these bids. With bids fluctuating almost 50 per cent over the year when comparing State-to-State, it is imperative to have deep insight and market intelligence to be successful in this environment, states Mercom.

However, for the first time, monthly capacity addition of solar exceeded the wind segment, a major driver of country’s renewable energy capacity addition, in September. The solar sector added a new capacity of 111 MW in September, while wind’s new capacity addition stood at about 103 MW. As of September 30, 2013, cumulative grid-connected capacity addition through wind and solar segments stood at 19,881 MW and 2,080 MW, respectively.

According to preliminary estimates, a tentative solar capacity addition of 1750 MW, including 420 MW of CSP projects that didn’t get installed in this year, is projected for 2014, “states Mercom.

With 750 MW of JNNSM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission) Phase II projects are unlikely to be commissioned before May, 2015, projects under Indian State schemes are where the action will be in 2014.

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