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Solar power installations see record surge in Q1 ‘18

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The first quarter (Q1) of 2018 (January-March) was the best on record for solar power installations in India, with 3269 MW being installed in the country, a 34% increase compared to Q4 of 2017. Installations were also up on a year-on-year basis — 2,991 MW was installed in Q1 of 2017. The quarter also marked another feat—this was the first time when over 3 GW (One GW equals 1000 MW) of capacity was installed in the Indian solar market. This was the fifth quarter in a row where at least 2 GW of solar power generation capacity was installed, data compiled by Mercom Communications India, a subsidiary of Mercom Capital Group, said.

The surge in installations in Q1 of 2018 was primarily due to the completion of projects which were scheduled for commissioning in the previous quarter but had experienced delays due to grid connection issues. The cumulative installed solar power capacity totaled 22.8 GW at the end of Q1 2018.The surge in installations in Q1 of 2018 was primarily due to the completion of projects which were scheduled for commissioning in the previous quarter but had experienced delays due to grid connection issues. The cumulative installed solar power capacity totaled 22.8 GW at the end of Q1 2018.

Karnataka was the leading solar state with over 5 GW of cumulative installed capacity and was followed by Telangana, Mercom said. Solar represented about 6.6% of the total installed power capacity as of Q1 2018 According to the ‘India Solar Market Update’ by Mercom, in Q1 2018, large-scale installations continued to drive the Indian solar market — 2,879 MW of capacity was installed in Q1 2108 compared to 2,188 MW in Q4 2017 and 2,746 MW installed in Q1 2017.

Of the total installed solar capacity, large-scale projects accounted for 88% while rooftop projects accounted for the remaining 12%.

The large-scale solar project pipeline for India stands at 9.7 GW with 10.2 GW tendered and pending auction as of the end of Q1 2018. Rooftop installations accounted for 390 MW compared to 260 MW installed the previous quarter and 245 MW installed in the first quarter of 2017. “Even though Q1 was a record quarter, solar procurement activity has been muted over the last few quarters. But with an anticipated decline in module prices, we expect to see tariffs decline and distribution companies ramp up procurement activity,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO and co-founder of Mercom Capital Group.“Coming off a record quarter, there are still several issues that need to be resolved by the government before strong growth resumes in the Indian solar sector at a healthy pace,” he said. “The uncertainty around the trade cases has put a freeze on development activity,” Mercom stated.“The industry needs clarity on the safeguard duty to understand how it will be imposed and at what levels. Even with the announcement of the pass-through provision, concerns remain in the industry,” it said. Mercom has forecast about 8–9 GW of solar power capacity to be installed in calendar year (CY) 2018.

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