India becomes lowest-cost producer of solar power

New Delhi: India has finally bagged the tag of the lowest cost producer of Solar Power globally. The country-wise average for the total installed costs of utility scale solar PV  in 2018 ranged from a low of 793 per Kilowatt (Kw) – around Rs 5.5 crore per Megawatt -- in India to a high of 2,427per Kw in Canada, the International renewable Energy Agency.

India was estimated to have the lowest total installed costs for new utility-scale solar PV projects that were commissioned in 2018 at 793 per Kw, 27 per cent lower than for projects commissioned in 2017.Further, IRENA conducted an analysis of the decline in the cost of setting up solar PV projects between 2010 and 2018 across eight major markets including China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, UK and the US. The costs were found to have dropped at the fastest pace – 80 per cent – in India. Typically, the cost of hardware -- including modules, inverters and racking and mounting -- account for more than a half of the total cost of setting up a solar PV project in India while installation and soft costs like financing and system design account for the rest.

In 2018, 94 Gigawatt of new solar PV capacity was added globally, accounting for 55 per cent of the total new renewable power generation capacity additions. The largest markets for new capacity additions in 2018 were China (44 GW), India (9 GW), the United States (8 GW), Japan (6 GW), Australia and Germany (4 GW), and the Republic of Korea, Mexico and Turkey (around 2 GW each).

Dramatic decline in the cost of elasticity  from utility-scale solar PV continued in 2018, with a fall in the global weighted-average Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) of solar PV to 0.085 per Kilowatt Hour (kWh) – 13 per cent lower than for projects commissioned in 2017.

The country-specific LCOE of utility-scale solar PV declined by between 62 per cent in Japan and 80 per cent in Italy between 2010 and 2018. The year-on-year reduction in the LCOE in 2018 ranged from 21 per cent in India to a low of 1 per cent in Japan.The cost reductions in 2018 were supported by crystalline silicon module price declines of between 26 per cent and 32 per cent, between December 2017 and December 2018, after modest declines of between 1 per cent and 7 per cent for the 12 months from December 2016 to December 2017.

Experts attribute India’s status of lowest-cost producer of solar power to multiple reasons including high solar potential that leads to improved asset utilization and lower cost of modules sourced from China. Also, from a regulatory standpoint, utilities solar PV procurement is price driven. That means developers bring in maximum efficiency in procurement of equipment and financing costs.