Renewable generation overtakes hydro in December

December’s renewable generation data has now been published by the CEA,  showing that renewable sources (largely wind and solar) contributed more to the grid than (large-scale) hydro for the first time.  Although hydro power is also renewable, as a long-standing source of electricity in India, its has been counted separately as part of ‘conventional generation’.  Having overtaken nuclear generation some time ago, renewables edged past hydro by a margin exceeding 1,000 GWh with a year-on-year increase of 49%.

This rebound in renewables follows a disappointing September and October when low wind levels depressed renewable generation, and September showed a now rare year-on-year decline, as the next chart shows.

While wind is still the main renewable generation source, solar energy continues to advance following significant capacity addition last year, including a doubling of capacity addition in Q3 2017.  This is apparent in the ever larger red band in the chart below, which shows the last 45 months’ data for the various types of renewable energy.   Strong seasonal trends are also clear: wind and small hydro peak during the monsoon, while most energy from bagasse coincides with the sugar crane crushing season at the end of the calendar year.  Solar generation has shown relatively minor seasonal changes, which have in any event been overshadowed by the continually increasing level of generation.

In the bigger picture, thermal sources (predominantly coal) remain dominant.  However, the 12-month moving averages (below, calculated from CEA data), which smooth out seasonal effects, show a recent plateauing of thermal power.  Nuclear generation has lifted slightly, and seasonally averaged hydro has (at least for now) bucked a longer-term decline.


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