In the last year, 2016-17, the country's solar energy capacity expanded by a record 5,525.98 MW. According to reports released by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), India had added 3,010 MW in the previous year, thus translating to an almost doubling of growth in the past year.
Cumulative solar capacity currently stands at 12,288.83 MW, against 6,762.85 MW at the end of March 2016, says an ET report. Renewable Energy and Mines Minister Piyush Goyal was visibly satisfied that the growth is impressive, even if it falls short of the target.
Santosh Vaidya, Joint Secretary at the MNRE, said,
By the end of next year, our minister has committed to a cumulative target of 20,000 MW. This would mean adding another 7,750 MW in 2017-18. Once we do so, we will have reached the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) target two years in advance.
The cumulative target the MNRE had set earlier was 17,000 MW by the end of 2016-17. The JNNSM, which initially set up a target of 20,000 MW, was later increased to 100,000 MW after PM Modi came to power in 2014. Last year, of the 5,526 MW added, only 2,803 MW of solar power was generated by March 2017.
Vaidya further added,
These projects were ready and were only awaiting their synchronisation with the grid or state approval or signing of the power purchase agreement. We have seen how low tariffs have fallen at bids such as the one at the Rewa Solar Park.
Andhra Pradesh has been the highest contributor of solar capacity in 2016-17 with an annual generation of 1,294.26 MW. Karnataka stood second (882.38 MW), and was followed by Telangana (759.13 MW). The other states that were in the league were Rajasthan (543 MW), Tamil Nadu (630.01 MW), Punjab (388 MW), Uttar Pradesh (193.24 MW), and Uttarakhand (192.35 MW).
Rajasthan, which was the top state in producing solar energy for the last three years, lost its tag to Karnataka. Very recently, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had unveiled a mission named ‘Mission 41k’ as an attempt to revitalise the Indian Railways over the next ten years. This mission aims at saving electrical energy and spending on electricity by shifting to solar energy. This has been proved possible before, saving Rs 4,000 crore on energy in the past. Through the 'Mission 41k' initiative, Indian Railways plans to save Rs 41,000 crore on the energy expenditure budget.