The achievement comes on the back of a major renewable energy push by Modi government, which after coming to power in 2014 had scaled up the target to 100 gw of solar capacity by 2022.
According to the latest India research report by green energy market tracker Mercom Capital, the utility-scale cumulative installations now stand at approximately 18.4 gw, with rooftop solar accounting for another 1.6 gw.
For the first time, solar was the top source of new power capacity additions in India during the calendar year 2017, with preliminary figures showing solar installations reaching 9.6 gw in this period and accounting for 45% of total capacity additions.
But the country has reached the milestone at a time when protectionist measures threaten to slow down activity in the industry. The pace of overall solar installations is expected to be less impressive in 2018 as several protectionist government policies appear poised to increase costs and uncertainty.
"The government's revised solar installation target of 100 gw by 2022 has recently been clashing with PM Modi's 'Make in India' initiative to promote domestic manufacturing. The recommendation for 70% safeguard duty on (solar panel) imports, the ongoing anti-dumping case, and a 7.85% port duty on imported modules are together creating an atmosphere of regulatory uncertainty that is taking a toll on the industry and slowing down installation activity," the Mercom report quoted CEO Raj Prabhu as saying.
The rooftop solar sector also witnessed steady growth in 2017 alongside the rise in grid-connected utility-scale capacity. In a display of government's commitment to this segment, solar power producer Azure Power on Tuesday won a project to electrify 152 schools with rooftop solar projects of 11.35 mw. The company will sign the agreement with Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, an autonomous body under human resources development ministry.