Perhaps for the first time ever, India added more renewable energy capacity in a calendar year than coal-based capacity. One of the fastest growing renewable energy markets achieved this feat last year.
According to government data, India added 12.8 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity against just 4 gigawatts of net coal-based power capacity added in 2017. Renewable energy dominated the new capacity added in India with a massive share of 66%, up from 42% in 2016. Coal-based power capacity had a share of 21% in the new net capacity added, down from 54% in 2016.
Interestingly, the total power capacity added in India in 2017 was also down from 30 gigawatts in 2016 to 19 gigawatts in 2017. The sharp decline is also due to the 3.1 gigawatts of coal-based capacity retired last year, also a record.
Net coal-based capacity declined from 16 gigawatts in 2016 to just 4 gigawatts in 2017. Wind energy capacity declined marginally in 2017, from 4.3 gigawatts to 4.1 gigawatts. The solar power sector witnessed another record year with new capacity added increasing from 4.7 gigawatts to 8 gigawatts. A marginal fall wind capacity added in 2017 also meant virtually no growth in new renewable energy capacity added in 2017 compared to 2016.
More net capacity in the renewable energy sector was added in three of the four quarters last year than in the coal-based power sector. Since Q3 2015, India has seen more renewable energy capacity added in six of the 10 quarters.
Winds have been blowing in favor of India’s renewable energy sector over the last few months and quarters due to regular auctions in the solar and wind energy sectors. While the wind energy sector did see a slowdown due to policy changes, it is likely to be back on track of accelerated growth in the coming months as nearly 7.5 gigawatts of auctioned capacity (by early April 2018) comes online.
Similarly, large and regular solar power auctions have been planned at the central as well as state level across the country. These would also add to the huge pipeline of projects already auctioned and under construction.