MNRE: Rooftop PV targets missed, ground-mounted and off-grid exceeded

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In an update on the progress of its ambitious solar targets, the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has revealed that, in the 2017-2018 financial year, its rooftop solar PV targets were massively missed, with just 352.83 MW installed versus the goal of 1 GW.

On a more positive note, grid connected ground mounted systems slightly exceeded their 9 GW installation target, at 9009.81 MW; while 216.63 MW of off-grid systems were installed, thus also exceeding their 150 MW target.

Overall, reports MNRE, cumulative solar PV installs, as of March 31, 2018, are now sitting at 20.6 GW of ground mount, 1.06 GW of rooftop and 671.41 MW of off-grid systems.

Commenting, Dharmendra Kumar tells pv magazine, “As per government’s target, India was supposed to install 5 GW of rooftop solar cumulatively, by March 2018. However, the actual installation as per official numbers is 1.06 GW.”

He adds, “Some of the prominent issues behind the slow growth of rooftop segment are lack of uniform regulation, multiple tenders by different government agencies, but getting delayed, Discoms not ready to buy power from residentials, lack of net metering in few states, involvement of multiple stake holders, lack of viable rooftops to sustain installations.”

Vinay Rustagi from Bridge to India comments, “The main reason for such a big miss in targets is that the target itself has been set at a wrong level. 40% allocation to rooftop solar is arbitrary and without any regard to market potential, challenges, etc. The market is growing briskly and if the government takes some proactive policy moves, it holds a huge growth potential. Our projections are that total rooftop capacity will reach 10 GW + by March 2022.”

By 2022, the goal is to reach 40 GW of rooftop PV installs. Recently, a group of international experts proposed a solution, which could help the country close in on its target: municipal financing, via the issuance of municipal bonds, which could offer a solution to increase debt availability for developers, while reducing project costs by up to 12%.

Discrepency

MNRE’s figures contrast with those from Bridge to India which, at the start of this March said that India’s total installed capacity had reached 19.5 GW as of December 31, 2017, comprising utility-scale solar capacity of 17.4 GW (89%), and rooftop solar capacity of 2.1 GW (11%).

Commenting on this discrepancy, Rustagi tells pv magazine, “Rooftop solar numbers are, by their very nature, very difficult to collect and maintain because of the difficulty in accessing information from hundreds (possibly thousands) of small installers and contractors.

“MNRE data is based on numbers provided by the industry to them on their website (not many people tend to do so unless they get subsidies or other incentives from the government). We get our data by directly reaching out to the whole market twice a year and conducting a very exhaustive data sweep by speaking to a much greater number of people. We also try and analyze this data to fill in gaps using statistical techniques and hence, our numbers are almost double those of MNRE.”