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Land Availability Forced India To Scale Back Solar Power Installations

India's solar installations fell dramatically last year as the country ran into difficulties acquiring the large swaths of land needed, a new research report said on Thursday.

Research firm Mercom Capital said in a new report that India's solar installations came in at just 13.4 GW last year, a 7.5 GW drop from the year prior.

The challenges that India faced in adding solar installations were not the high cost of solar. The biggest challenges were delays in land acquisition, connectivity issues, and new regulations such as General Network Access (GNA) and grid compliance.

"Module price drops in Q3 led to increased orders, but grid compliance and last-minute connectivity issues due to new regulations caused project commissioning delays," added Priya Sanjay, Managing Director of Mercom India.

The research report elaborated that the grid connectivity challenges, power evacuation concerns in areas inhabited by a bird known as the Great Indian Bustard, and project extensions all contributed to the decline in installations last year, along with compliance with the amended grid code provisions. 

As of the end of last year, India's total solar capacity stood at 72GW—85.4% of which is utility-scale projects and 14.6% of which is rooftop solar.

India's large-scale solar project pipeline is 105.3 GW, with an additional 70.6 GW of projects tendered and awaiting auction as of the end of last year.

"Compared to most of 2023, market challenges like ALMM and high module prices no longer hinder projects. The absence of these financial obstacles allows previously stalled projects from 2023 to potentially proceed toward commissioning now," Sanjay said. He also called on the government to "ensure adequate substations and transmission infrastructure to accommodate the large capacity of projects" commissioning in Q1 2024.

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By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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