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  • The year 2018 has begun on a high note for the solar power sector, which achieved an installed capacity of 20 GW in January 2018.The milestone has been achieved four years ahead of the original timeline of 2022 under the National Solar Mission..

  • The revised target for installed solar capacity stands at 100 GW, and the sector is fast progressing towards it, as evident in the tendering activity, which is at an all time high. The month of January alone witnessed tenders for over 5.5 GW being launched by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and other state-level agencies. The sudden surge in tenders is in line with the ambitious tender trajectory issued by the Ministry of New and Renewable energy (MNRE) in November 2017. This sends positive signals for theindustry, which went through a lull during most of 2017.

  • Further, in 2017, for the first time, solar became the main source of new power capacity addition, with utility-scale solar installations reaching 9.6 GW, accounting for 45 per cent of the total power capacity addition in the country.

  • The rooftop solar segment is also witnessing steady growth, driven by the uptake of rooftop solar plants in the commercial and industrial sectors. The total rooftop solar capacity is estimated to have reached 1.6 GW in January 2018.

  • The growth, in both utility and rooftop solar segments, can be attributed to a major policy push by the government, favourable global market conditions, successful implementation of the solar parks model, positive investor sentiment and innovative financing mechanisms, and technology improvements.

  • However, the good news is accompanied by certain developments that may have repercussions on future growth. The recent increase in customs duty due to an additional 10 per cent surcharge will escalate the cost of solar projects, thereby increasing tariffs. Already,the price discovered in the solar auction in Karnataka in February 2018 has gone up to Rs 2.97 per unit, much higher than the winning tariff of Rs 2.44 per unit in the latest auction in Rajasthan.

  • The impending decision on anti-dumping duties and the Directorate General of Safeguards' proposal to impose 70 per cent duty on imported solar cells and modules has also led to major unrest among project developers

  • Several other challenges continue to plague the sector. The key amongst these are power offtake and payment security, which are considered the biggest risks in scaling up of solar power given the poor financial health of discoms. Further, there is a lack of integrated generation and transmission planning to support solar power projects. Besides, intermittent solar generation makes grid integration a challenge. Apart from this, the 100 GW solar target calls for a huge investment, which domestic institutions may not be able to meet.

  • Policymakers and industry stakeholders are collectively working towards addressing the aforementioned challenges. The implementation of the Green Energy Corridors project, the UDAY scheme, the forecasting, scheduling and deviation settlement mechanism and RPO norms is indicative of the government's efforts to resolve these challenges. The industry, on its part, has devised various innovative financing mechanisms and alternative instruments to lower the cost of capital, and obtain low-cost, long-term commitments from global institutions.

  • As solar transitions from being a niche to a disruptive resource, the mission of this conference is to examine the new trends and opportunities in the sector, study the impact of recent policy and regulatory initiatives, discuss the risks and challenges, and showcase the latest innovations, most promising technologies and noteworthy projects. The conference will also provide a platform to project developers, EPC companies and technology providers to share their experiences and exchange ideas.

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