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Clean energy sector catches up with thermal power

India’s total renewable capacity including solar, wind, bio-mass and small hydro grew by around 11.2 GW in FY 2016-17, at par with thermal capacity addition, which registered a decline of 50 per cent in the year.

The country added 5526 MW of new solar capacity (up 83 per cent over FY 2015-16) and 5400 MW of new wind capacity (up 63 per cent) in the year.  The figures released by the government suggest that March was a blockbuster month with addition of 5.8 GW renewable capacity in a single month (more than the combined value for previous eleven months). While these numbers are impressive, it is worth noting that the solar capacity addition including rooftop solar is almost 50 per cent below the annual target of 12,000 MW. In contrast, wind capacity addition was +35 per cent over the 4000 MW target.

The sector performance on some other measures has been much weaker. The pace of new utility-scale solar tender announcements and project allocations slowed down considerably at just 4.2 GW and 6 GW respectively, down 70 per cent and 33 per cent over last year. 

With an even more ambitious target of 20,450 MW for 2017-18 for the renewable sector, much more needs to be done to spur growth. Falling prices will undoubtedly be of significant help, but better regulatory enforcement of renewable purchase obligations and the UDAY scheme is critical. Meanwhile, as renewables continue to grow, prospects for thermal capacity addition seem limited and we expect renewables to beat thermal capacity addition in the coming years. 

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