Karnataka’s solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity crossed the 5 GW mark in the first quarter of 2018 to transform it into India’s top solar PV state.
So far in 2018, Karnataka has maintained its brisk pace of solar project commissioning. In 2017, the state installed over 2 GW of solar PV capacity and, in the first three months of 2018 alone, the state matched that annual total with the installation of over 2 GW of solar PV projects.
The development comes just two years after Mercom’s India Solar Project Tracker found in 2016 that Karnataka had the country’s largest project pipeline, boasting 3.4 GW of projects in various stages of development.
The 2 GW of growth seen in 2017 came from the commissioning of approximately 1.5 GW of projects that were allocated under the state’s solar policy and over 600 MW of solar projects were commissioned under the National Solar Mission.
Talking to Mercom about the state’s solar growth trajectory, a Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL) official said, “We want to make Karnataka a model renewable energy state. Policy implementation and removal of hurdles by the state electricity regulatory commission, KERC, has led to a spike in the installation numbers. We are easing the process of developing solar projects in the state and the current installation numbers are a reflection of the same.”
“If you consider the last two quarters, no other state has come close to Karnataka in terms of project commissioning,” the official added. When asked about the commissioning of over 1 GW of solar PV projects for third-party sale of power, the KREDL official said, “This should not come as a surprise. These projects were onboard prior to 2017 and almost all of them were commissioned in the first quarter of 2018.”
Talking to Mercom about the development of solar capacity in Karnataka, an official with the Karnataka Solar Power Development Corporation Limited (KSPDCL) said, “In the Pavagada Solar Park, 600 MW has been installed, another 550 MW have been awarded, and the infrastructure development is also happening at a satisfactory pace. Capacity additions at Pavagada Solar Park will further add to the installed capacity of the state.”
According to Mercom’s India Solar Project Tracker, Telangana became the first Indian state to achieve more than 3 GW of cumulative solar capacity in 2017 after it added approximately 695 MW of solar installations during the fourth quarter alone.
Karnataka was then at the number two spot with cumulative solar installations totaling 2.8 GW, after adding approximately 950 MWs during the fourth quarter of 2017. As of March 31, 2018, the state of Karnataka had leapfrogged Telangana to claim the top spot with over 5 GW of installed solar PV capacity.
Mercom reported that utility-scale projects accounted for 90 percent of the 9.6 GW of total solar installations added during 2017. During the period, Telangana and Karnataka each installed more than 2 GW of solar capacity. In Karnataka where land availability is an issue, implementing agencies have gone for the taluk wise allocation of projects to avoid burdening the existing grid infrastructure and to optimally utilize available land.
Recently, over 1 GW of solar PV capacity was auctioned and awarded in Karnataka. Mercom reported that the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) for solar projects totaling 640 MW to be developed in various taluks of the state have now been signed. Mercom also reported that KREDL has auctioned 550 MW of solar projects to be developed at the Pavagada Solar Park in the Tumkur district of the state.
“Karnataka has done a commendable job so far in becoming the state with most solar installations. The big question is what happens in Karnataka after the 1 GW of projects remaining in its development pipeline get completed. If power demand remains weak and solar power becomes more expensive due to tariff imposition, future activity is likely to be less robust,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group.