• The India Solar Map March 2018 of consultancy Bridge to India shows that at least least 10.4 GW was installed during FY 2017-18.
  • Utility scale PV accounts for 21.34 GW of cumulative PV capacity of 24.4 GW
  • Karnataka tops list of Indian solar states with more than 5 GW commissioned so far; it is followed by Telangana, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu
  • Off-grid segment shows future potential as government focuses on ' 'solarizing' India’s extensive farming community
  • While Chinese module suppliers continue their dominance in India, domestic companies dominate EPC segment

At least 10.4 GW was installed during FY 2017-18, according to the India Solar Map March 2018 of clean energy consultancy Bridge to India (BTI). Utility scale PV is growing its presence in India, accounting for 74% or 21.34 GW of the cumulative 24.4 GW of installed PV capacity by March 31, 2018. And another 8.18 GW of utility scale PV capacity is in the pipeline.

Karnataka leads India’s ‘solar states’ with 5.19 GW commissioned capacity, followed by Telangana with 3.28 GW, Rajasthan with 2.3 GW and Andhra Pradesh with 2.28 GW. Tamil Nadu completes the top five with 1.85 GW of commissioned solar capacity.

Yet the prospects during the rest of the FY 2018-19 don’t look as bright, believes BTI. The slow down in tender activity in late 2016 and early 2017 is supposed to show its impact during the year. BTI anticipates only somewhere around 4 GW to be added in 2018.

Of the total installed PV capacity in India, rooftop solar claims 2.41 GW, while so-called ‘open access’ or off-site solar accounts for 3.24 GW, its best year since FY 2013-14. This growth in the open access market was almost entirely due to a run as Karnataka’s attractive solar policy was phased out at the end of the year, according to BTI.

Though smaller in volume, off-grid solar is emerging as another growth segment representing 691 MW of the total. This includes the application of solar PV for solar pumps, solar packs, mini grids, telecom towers and lighting systems. BTI sees a growing market for off-grid solar as the government pushes for solar irrigation pumps under the central government’s Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM) scheme for farmers, which aims to install grid connected solar power plants, each with a capacity of up to 2 MW, in rural areas. Stand alone off-grid solar water pumps will be installed to help farmers in rural areas for their irrigation requirements. Existing grid connected agriculture pumps will be solarized and will help farmers sell excess power to distributed power companies.

Among competing PV companies in India, Adani jumped from last year’s fourth ranking to the top among project developers in FY 2017-18, while Greenko slipped from the top to seventh position. Canadian Solar was the top module supplier. The top 10 list included only one American company (First Solar), one Indian company (Mundra Solar), and one South Korean company (Hanwha Q Cells), while the majority were Chinese manufacturers.

ABB continued to maintain its top position among inverter suppliers, as did Sterling & Wilson among EPC contractors. The complete BTI solar map is accessible on its website.

Recently Mercom India Research in its report Q1/2018 India Solar Market Update estimated that the cumulative installed solar power capacity in India reached 22.8 GW by March 2018. Bridge to India in its recent India Solar Compass Q1/2018 estimated that the country commissioned over 3.76 GW of utility scale capacity alone in Q1/2018.