Equipment, labour constraints stymie Indian solar as Q2 set to be slower yet

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Labour and component constraints caused by pandemic caused

Just under 1GW of solar was installed in India across the utility-scale and rooftop sectors in Q1 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic posed a number of significant challenges to the industry.

And consultancy Bridge to India expects the impacts to reverberate around the sector for months to come, with just 500MW of large-scale solar to be installed throughout Q2 2020.

The figures, part of Bridge to India’s Solar Compass update for the first three months of the year, reveal that around 689MW of utility-scale solar and 300MW of rooftop solar was installed in Q1 2020, significantly below previous estimates.

Nearly 2GW (1,864MW) of large-scale solar alone was scheduled for commissioning between 1 January and 31 March 2020. However, the effects of the pandemic – felt in earnest from late January onwards – have sparked a “significant slippage” in project commissioning.

While India’s government initiated a strict lockdown between 25 March and 20 April, which indeed disrupted project commissioning schedules, Bridge to India attributed much of the turbulence to equipment and labour constraints, issues which are likely to continue to stymie deployment into Q2.

As a result, Bridge to India now expects large-scale deployment in the country to fall to just 500MW in Q2, rebounding to 1,184MW in Q3.

While there is better news on the tender front – Solar Energy Corporation of India issued tenders amounting to 9,414MW in Q1 alone – slower than expected deployment of solar in India is cause for yet more concern for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious targets. Those targets, and indeed India’s chances of meeting them, were the subject of a feature article within PV Tech Power volume 22, which can be read here.

Bridge to India’s statistics also compound other estimates from market research houses, with Wood Mackenzie saying in April it expects Indian solar deployment to fall by a quarter this year as a result of the pandemic.

Deployment in Q1 takes India’s total solar generation capacity to 37.916GW, comprising just over 32GW of utility-scale solar, 5,470MW of rooftop solar and 978MW of off-grid PV, Bridge to India’s statistics show.

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