By the end of 2017, India will leapfrog to third position in the global solar market sweepstakes, boasting of a capacity of 18.7GW.
That's 5% of global capacity, and higher than Japan's, said India Solar Handbook 2017, a report by Bridge to India (BTI), an Indian clean energy consultancy.
“Indian solar market has grown by an average 72% in the last three years and is now worth approximately 8-9GW per annum," said Vinay Rustagi, managing director of BTI. "Growing market size and strong government commitment to the sector have attracted the world’s leading private sector players as well as resulted in lower tariffs for consumers."
India's southern states will be the prime movers in addition of solar capacity of 8.8GW this year.
In Kamuthi, Tamil Nadu, the Adani Group inaugurated the world's largest solar farm in November. The huge farm, which stretches across 10 km sq and generates 648MW of power from 2.5 million solar modules, was built in just eight months.
The vast project cost about $679 million, and its seemingly endless rows of solar panels are cleaned robotically.
Solar energy has become cheaper following the steep fall in the cost of modules and components over the past few years. Last month, French company Solairedirect SA bid a low Rs 3.15 per kWh for a 250MW solar project at Kadapa in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
That's lower than the generation cost of Rs 3.20 of NTPC Ltd, India's biggest thermal power generation utility.
In fact, offers for forthcoming solar projects at Bhadala in Rajasthan state are expected to be even lower than Solairedirect's bid, at an estimated Rs 2.90 per unit.