At the end of March 2020, India’s total installed solar power capacity reached 38.89 GW comprising utility scale solar, rooftop solar, and off-grid solar, as per Bridge to India's Q1/2020 report, when only less than 1 GW was installed. (Source: Bridge to India)
- BTI report claims India installed 989 MW of new solar PV capacity in Q1/2020
- Rooftop solar was worst affected and contributed only 300 MW to the quarterly additions while 689 MW came from utility scale solar
- The rooftop solar segment is likely to take time to recover as companies would want to reserve cash in view of economic uncertainty
- For utility scale solar, BTI expects 500 MW and 1,184 MW of new additions in Q2/2020 and Q3/2020, respectively
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Lockdown Hurts. This title of the Indian Solar Compass Q1 2020 report by Bridge to India (BTI) kind of summarizes the impact this renewable energy market intelligence firm believes COVID-19 has had on the Indian solar industry in the first 3 months of the year. The country added 989 MW of solar power capacity in the reporting quarter as per the report comprising 689 MW of utility scale additions and 300 MW of rooftop solar.
Earlier, BTI had expected utility scale solar installations of 1,864 MW in the reporting quarter. Analysts say the pandemic slowed the progress even though project construction was allowed during the extended lockdown that started from the third week of March 2020 in India due to equipment and labor shortage.
Before the lockdown began in India, the Chinese New Year holidays got extended to curb the spread of the pandemic in its country of origin.
Solar tender announcements boomed though during Q1/2020 as the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) issued 9,414 MW of tenders out of 14,293 MW issued in total in the country. However, only 8,241 MW capacity was auctioned.
BTI is not too hopeful of the market picking up speed in the next 2 quarters as for utility scale installations it expects only 500 MW and 1,184 MW of new capacity in Q2/2020 and Q3/2020.
For rooftop solar, which was ‘hit badly’ in the period with only 300 MW added as all commercial and industrial set ups were forced to shut their operations, BTI cautions that this market may take longer to recover. Companies would be keen on prioritizing core business operations to conserve cash in times of economic uncertainty. It expects 360 MW of rooftop solar additions over Q2/2020 and Q3/2020.
“Power demand had begun to inch up gradually in January and February but then fell by as much as 25-30% towards end March as the lockdown took effect. If demand remains depressed, as widely expected in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, renewable power prospects would be seriously affected,” reads the report.
At the end of March 2020, BTI says cumulative Indian solar power capacity reached 38.89 GW, coming from 32.17 GW of utility scale solar, 5.74 GW of rooftop solar and 978 MW of off-grid solar. India’s total pipeline of projects allocated to developers and at various stages of development reached 28.97 GW.
The report can be purchased on BTI’s website.
In May 2020, Mercom India Research claimed the pandemic pulled down Q1/2020 solar additions in India by 39% YoY to 1.08 GW (see India: Q1/2020 Solar Installations Decline 39% YoY).