India witnessed an extraordinary milestone in its power sector, something one would not expect in a developing country and one which is heavily dependent on coal for power generation.

India added more renewable energy capacity than thermal power capacity in financial year 2016-17, the Central Electricity Authority of India has reported. The renewable energy capacity added during the period April 2016 to March 2017 was nearly twice as much as the thermal power capacity added during the same period.

A total of 6,990 megawatt coal-based power capacity was added in India in FY2016-17 while the thermal power capacity addition during the financial year stood at 7,655 megawatts. In comparison, 14,140 megawatts of renewable energy capacity was added in the same period.

Wind and solar power were the largest contributors among the renewable energy technologies in terms of capacity addition in FY2016-17. A total of 5,413 megawatts of wind energy capacity was added, the highest-ever in India’s history. Solar power capacity addition stood at 5,526 megawatts, also the highest-ever in India.

The share of renewable energy capacity in India’s total installed capacity increased from 14.2% at the end of FY2015-16 to 17.5% at the end of FY2016-17. India targets 40% share of renewable energy technologies in the installed capacity mix by 2030.

This could very well be the first instance when India added more renewable energy capacity than thermal power capacity. However, this would certainly not be the last given the strong pipeline of wind and solar power projects waiting to be commissioned over the next few months.

A record 10 gigawatt of solar power capacity is expected to be added in calendar year 2017 and 6 gigawatts of wind energy capacity is expected to be added in FY2017-18. The thermal power sector in India is already feeling the pinch of increase generation capacity in the renewable energy sector. Last year, the Central Electricity Authority reported that thermal power plants were operating at a plant load factor of just 50% due to the increase power generation from renewable energy projects.

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