Indian solar faces slowdown after record 9,255MW deployment in 2017 – Bridge to India

Indian solar project costs have grown by 18% in 6 months. Credit: Bridge to India

India deployed a record 9,255MW of solar in 2017, up 94% from the previous year, but uncertainty and a slowdown looms in 2018, according to the latest quarterly report from consultancy firm Bridge to India.

The ‘India Solar Compass Q4’, estimated just 6GW of total solar additions over the course of 2018, at just two-thirds of 2017’s installation figures. To kick off 2018, Bridge to India expects utility-scale PV additions of 3,019MW in Q1 and 1,520MW in Q2.

The Compass, covering Q4 2017, reported a quarter that was well below expectations, with just 1,503MW of utility-scale PV commissioned, despite 5,100MW being scheduled for completion in this period. Indeed, part of the expected uptick in Q1 this year is likely to come from projects slipping through from Q4 2017. The slow Q4 was attributed to challenges in land acquisition and transmission connectivity in various SECI tenders, as well as Karnataka and Telangana state tenders. Meanwhile, module prices also grew 6% over the quarter. Indeed, Bridge to India noted that project execution costs have risen sharply by about 18% in only a six-month period.

The Q4 tally brought the country’s total installed solar capacity to 19,516MW by the end of last year. Of this total capacity, 17,415MW was in large-scale, with 2,101MW in rooftop solar. Once again, four southern states alongside the northern state of Rajasthan led the pack with a 94% increase over 2016.

According to the report, the highest capacity additions in Q4 2017 came from:

  1. ReNew Power – 300MW
  2. Adani – 250MW
  3. Tata Power – 180MW

The highest capacity additions over the whole of 2017 came from:

  1. ReNew – 826MW
  2. Greenko – 710MW
  3. NTPC – 510MW

Inverter supply in Q4 was led by:

  1. Sungrow – 27%
  2. TMEIC – 20%
  3. Huawei – 16%

Module supply in Q4 was led by Canadian Solar, First Solar and JA Solar, who together had more than a 50% market share. For India’s domestic manufacturers, Mundra Solar (190MW) and Vikram Solar (145MW) remained the largest manufacturers by production in the quarter.

New tenders of 2,650MW were issued in Q4, with Maharashtra and Karnataka leading. However, reports have emerged that both these states have seen tenders held up by a lack of interest, which stemmed from the uncertainty over the anti-dumping investigations and a lack of provisions to protect the developer in case of any change in law. Similarly, 718MW of EPC tenders with a DCR component were cancelled in the quarter, following the escalating spat between the US and India at the WTO over India’s local content policy.

Rooftop solar saw an encouraging growth of more than 100% in new tenders, aggregating to more than 220MW over Q4. Bridge to India expects around 190MW of rooftop PV to be added in Q1 2018 and 200MW in Q2 2018.

Vinay Rustagi, managing director, Bridge to India, said: “The solar sector has been under pressure for some time due to a variety of factors – weak demand, increases in module prices, GST and threat of safeguard and/or anti-dumping duties. The impending decision on safeguard duty remains the overriding concern. But hopefully, the pick-up in tender issuance should provide some relief to developers and the overall supply chain.”

In recent blogs, Bridge to India has said it expects a decision of safeguard duties concering solar imports to be imminent, but has also said that it believes trade protection for domestic manufacturers to be misguided.

India also crossed the 20GW deployment mark earlier this year.

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