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Clean Tech - A Thumbs Up For 2016; Will The Private Players' Woes Be Addressed In 2017

The country witnessed quite a remarkable success in ushering the clean energy drive. Though we have a long way to go to achieve the ambitious targets by 2020 that we have set for ourselves, the ball has been set to roll

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The country witnessed quite a remarkable success in ushering the clean energy drive. Though we have a long way to go to achieve the ambitious targets by 2020 that we have set for ourselves, the ball has been set to roll.

Having said that, we take a look at the Sectoral Highlights of 2016: (Fiscal Year - 1 April-31 March)

1. Solar: Exceeded the target by 116 per cent - Biggest solar capacity addition of 3019 MW in 2015-16, against the rough target of 2000 MW. In the current fiscal year 2016-17, a total of 2112 MW capacity has been added till November 16, with a target of 12000 MW to be achieved. This is a very ambitious target that India has set as against the target of 2000 MW that was set up in 2015-16.

2. Wind: Exceeded the target by 43 per cent - Largest wind capacity addition of 3423 MW in 2015-16, against the target of 2400 MW. In the current fiscal year 2016-17, a total of 1641 MW has been added, against the target of 4000 MW to be achieved. Hopes can be drawn from the fact that India stands 4th after China, USA and Germany in terms of wind power installed capacity of 28419 MW.

3. A capacity addition of 0.53 GW has been added under Grid Connected Renewable Power since last two and half years from Small Hydro Power plants.

4. Biomass power includes installations from biomass combustion, biomass gasification and bagasse co-generation. During 2016-17, against a target of 400 MW, 101 MW installations of biomass power plants has been achieved making a cumulative achievement to 4932 MW.

5. Family Type Biogas Plants mainly for rural and semi-urban households are set up under the National Biogas and Manure Management Programme (NBMMP). During 2016-17, against a target of 1.00 lakh biogas plants, 0.28 lakh biogas plants installations has been achieved making a cumulative achievement to 49.384 lakh biogas plants as on 31.11.2016.

6. 31,472 Solar Pumps installed in 2015-16, higher than total number of pumps installed during last 24 years i.e. since beginning of the programme in 1991. So far, 90710 Solar Pump have been installed in the Country as on 31.10.2016. A target of 50,000 pumps for irrigation and potable water consumption has been set for installation for during the year 2016-17.

India's share of solar generation continues to grow with 16.7 per cent of new power generating capacity added in 2016 (as of November 2016). Solar accounted for almost 1 per cent of electricity generated from April-October (FY2016-2017), 50 per cent more than all of FY2015-2016. The top 10 states account for approximately 90 per cent of all solar installations and pipeline; they are: Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh, according to Mercom report.

Amidst all the good news, there is still a lot of ground work to be covered. The sector witnessed good news in 2016, with some new policies and reforms in 2017. The recent ex-post facto approval to the proposal of Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) for ratification of ISA's Framework Agreement by India which would bring together more than 121 solar resource rich nations for coordinated research, low cost financing and rapid deployment will put India globally in a leadership role in climate and renewable energy issues. "The solar manufacturing policy has been awaited for some time now and we may see the policy being issued in first half of the new year. In terms of new technologies, lot of work is going on in storage and offshore wind programmes and we may see some pilot initiatives although the cost curves for both are still not yet attractive from Indian perspective", says Vinay Rustagi, Managing director - Bridge To India.

In terms of challenges, the private players face the brunt of raising sufficient equity capital to fund the planned growth. "Many Indian IPPs have built large project pipelines and we believe that there is not enough equity appetite to fund 15 GW of capacity addition on an annual basis. Capacity of the transmission grid to deal with growing renewable capacity will also be a headache for private players as well as DISCOMs and regulators".

If grid curtailment incidence continues to rise, there will be growing pressure on the government to reform the critical 'must run' status of the sector and to make the sector growth sustainable. This would entail planning further expansions and modifications to the grid, improving forecasting ability, instituting tariff reforms and building resilience on the supply side to manage demand side.

"We expect 2017 to be the year of record capacity addition in the sector, wind moving from FIT to auctions and growing power demand. We estimate total capacity addition of 12 GW, more than 50 per cent higher than in 2016. In particular, rooftop solar will get a major boost next year with big tenders coming from public sector and concessional debt schemes from WB and ADB becoming operational. We should also see positive effects of UDAY scheme coming through by way of improvement in DISCOM finances and growing demand for power", adds Rustagi.