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  • The Indian solar industry is witnessing a remarkable period of growth. It achieved a capacity addition of over 2 GW in 2015-16, compared to about 1.1 GW in 2014-15 and less than 1 GW in 2013-14.

  • The coming years are expected to record even higher capacity addition as is evident from the growing list of companies announcing project development plans. There is high interest among equipment and technology providers from across the world to invest in manufacturing in India. Financiers too are keen to invest in this space.

  • The growth in investor interest can be attributed to the government’s commitment towards promoting solar power by providing a conducive environment to enable rapid capacity addition.

  • In the past two years, the government has announced a slew of initiatives to provide an impetus to the solar power segment. It has launched a scheme for the development of solar parks and ultra mega solar power projects, introduced a viability gap funding mechanism for project allocation, re-launched the bundling scheme for much higher capacity allocation than earlier, and unveiled various decentralised solar power programmes.

  • At the state level too, many state governments are actively promoting the development of solar power through a supportive policy and regulatory framework.

  • Over 10 GW of solar projects are under development and projects worth about 8.4 GW are expected to be auctioned in the next few months under various state and central programmes.

  • Growth in competition and scale has led to a significant decline in solar power tariffs, which have almost reached grid parity. The latest round of reverse e-auction saw the lowest bid dropping to Rs 4.34 per unit for a project in Rajasthan.

  • Besides, driven by the decline in the cost of solar panels and the operational success of projects set up so far, plans are afoot to promote rooftop solar power generation in a big way. At the central level, the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) is executing a pan-Indian
    grid-connected rooftop PV programme, and at the state level, a majority of states have announced rooftop and net metering policies. Moreover, the government’s roadmap for 100 GW of solar power capacity by 2022 involves the installation of 40 GW on rooftops.

  • Despite the positives however, the sector faces several challenges that need to be resolved at the earliest. These pertain to the lax enforcement of RPOs, the large gap between planning and implementation as has been the case with the Green Energy Corridors project, flawed tax structures and import duties, and high cost of financing.

  • Further, there are growing concerns about the viability of the newly bid projects. With project auctions becoming increasingly competitive, margins are coming under pressure and leading players to take increasing risks.

  • What also needs to be evaluated in the short to medium term is the sustainability of demand, given that the generation capacity addition has to be complemented by reforms in the electricity distribution segment in order to improve the financial viability of the principal consumers. To this end, the success of the UDAY scheme will be crucial in lowering the offtakers’ risk in several states.

  • The mission of this conference is to examine the key growth trends, discuss the opportunities and challenges, get insights into the upcoming solar procurement plans of the centre and the states, study the impact of recent policy and regulatory developments, and showcase the latest innovations and most promising technologies. The conference will also provide a platform to project developers, EPC companies and technology providers to share their experiences and exchange ideas.
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