May 20 (Renewables Now) - Solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity additions in India fell by 39% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2020, taking a major blow by the COVID-19 health and financial crisis, Mercom India Research says in a new report.
In view of the statistics and unstable market environment caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the market analyst has trimmed its earlier solar demand forecast by 40%, now anticipating around 5 GW of new capacity to go online in 2020.
“The lockdown in the country disrupted the supply chain, lowered power demand, resulted in currency fluctuations making component costs unpredictable, and has exacerbated the liquidity issues,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group.
According to the report, construction activity in the first quarter was impacted even before the lockdown began in India due to supply shortage issues.
The latest data shows that the country commissioned 1,080 MW of solar parks in the first quarter, as compared to 1,761 MW in the year-ago period and 1,897 MW in the preceding trimester. This was the lowest level since 2016 but still, solar brought 65% of the country’s newly-commissioned capacity for the quarter.
Large-scale solar plants, totalling 886 MW, were responsible for 82% of the overall capacity that was brought online in the three months, while rooftop installations accounted for the remaining 18% with 194 MW.
CEO Prabhu noted that the next couple of months will be “critical” due to an expected shortage in labour and raw materials until the market returns to its normal pace. Any further extensions to the lockdown could lead to further reductions in the 2020 forecast, he pointed out.
“The next phase, when the country opens back up in stages, is important to monitor. If the outbreak intensifies after re-opening, then all bets are off. But if things go as planned, the solar industry should be up and running fairly quickly,” Prabhu explained.
At the end of March, India had almost 36.8 GW of cumulative solar installed capacity, with solar PV representing 9.8% of the country’s total power generation capacity. Large-scale installations stood at 32.2 GW.