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Rooftop solar may have been the fastest-growing segment within India’s renewable energy sector last year, but it is still not growing fast enough.
The Narendra Modi government has quietly downscaled its targets for financial year 2017-18 to only 1,000 megawatts (MW) of capacity. While the target was 5,000 MW till as recently as Dec. 21, 2017, the capacity progress report made available in January shows the scaled-down figure.
The original target (pdf) was 200 MW by financial year 2016, followed by 4,800 MW the next year, and 5,000 MW for financial year 2018. However, India’s cumulative installed capacity of rooftop solar stood at 982 MW as of December 2017. A mere 271 MW has come up this year, data from the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) show. “It looks difficult for them to achieve the target of 1,000 (MW),” Amit Kumar, a partner at consulting firm PwC, who focuses on renewables, told Quartz.
The MNRE also seems to have acknowledged as much. “But as we speak today, against this target we have set up around 16 GW of ground-mounted and 1 GW of rooftop solar. So if I can admit… our rooftop programme is not doing really well,” MNRE secretary Anand Kumar said on Jan. 19 at a workshop organised by trade body Confederation of Indian Industry in New Delhi, the Press Trust of India reported. The MNRE did not respond to an emailed questionnaire from Quartz.
Yet, the rooftop solar segment had really hit its stride in the last financial year when it became cheaper than grid power for most commercial and industrial users, driving up installations. Driven largely by government incentives and subsidies, around 715 MW of capacity was added across the country last fiscal, according to a November 2017 report (pdf) by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).