India Had Coal-Free Power Capacity Addition During 8 Months In 2017

Photo-illustration: Pixabay

India probably witnessed the greenest stretch of its power sector last year in terms of new capacity added. No thermal power capacity was added in 8 of the 12 months last year in India.

India managed to add coal-based power capacity in only 4 of the 12 months last calendar year. In six months, India actually retired coal-based power capacity, leading to a net reduction in installed coal-based capacity during those months. Overall, India added 7,115 megawatts of coal-based power capacity and retired 3,111 megawatts of capacity in 2017 — a net capacity addition of 4,004 megawatts during the entire year.

Only in three months did the coal-based power industry manage to beat capacity additions in the renewable energy industry. The largest monthly volume in the coal industry was seen in April 2017 with 3,115 megawatts capacity addition. The renewable energy industry saw addition of 7,242 megawatts in the same month.

Total capacity added in the renewable energy sector in 2017 was 12,829 megawatts, more than three times the net capacity addition in the coal sector. This is in stark contrast to the trends seen over the last few years.

In 2016, the coal-based power sector in India witnessed a net capacity addition of 15,950 megawatts — a gross capacity addition of 16,740 megawatts and 790 megawatts of retired capacity. Renewable energy industry witnessed the addition of 12,602 megawatts in 2016.

In 2016, the coal-based installed capacity in India had grown by 9.2% while in 2017 the capacity registered a meager growth of 2.1%. Renewable energy, on the other hand, grew by 33.7% in 2016 and 25.6% in 2017.

Renewable energy capacity additions have been driven largely by the solar power sector. While the capacity added in the solar and wind energy sector was evenly matched in 2016, the balance tipped overwhelming in favor of the solar sector in 2017.