Will the ban on ‘Blue Wafer Cell’ help in boosting the domestic solar manufacturing?

Recently, government had imposed restrictions on the use of imported ‘blue wafer/ diffused silicon wafer’ for the manufacturing of solar PV cells, as such PV cells will not qualify under the category of domestically manufactured solar cells under various government schemes. Here’re some views and voices from the solar industry on its impact:

Manish Aggarwal, Managing Director, Enkay Solar Power

MANISH GUPTA, Managing Director, Enkay Solar PowerThis decision will put MSMEs in big problem as people who are making cells in India have their own module capacity more than the cell capacity, so they will not supply any cells in the market. So we will not get cells for our own production. It shows a clear intention of the government to help big manufacturers and MSMEs have to close their production as all the tenders now require the ‘Make In India’ modules and cells. Cell manufacturers will not give their cells to MSMEs and we will not be able to participate in tenders.

Sudhir Aggarwal, Executive Director, Patanjali Renewable Energy

Sudhir Aggarwal, Executive Director, Patanjali Renewable EnergySuch a move will be detrimental to the growth of the Indigenous solar industry as it shall make them uncompetitive in their bids for Govt/ PSU tenders. We all know that the Government has taken a good move for promoting indigenously produced solar PV modules through number of programmes of MNRE, such as KUSUM, which have provisions for the mandatory use of domestically manufactured solar PV modules with the domestically manufactured solar PV cells. We also know that the existing capacity of domestically manufactured solar PV cells is hardly 3 GW p.a. This capacity cannot be increased overnight and it will take minimum 1-1.5 years to increase/set up solar PV cell line. So, Government should allow Blue wafers import so that the domestically manufactured solar PV cells capacity can be increased and hence more and more manufacturers could participate in such programmes to complete National Solar Mission by 2022. We therefore request the Ministry to reconsider the notification prohibiting Solar PV cells manufactured using Blue Wafers as DCR, till the domestic capacity is able to support the demand and enables the domestic manufacturers’ to be competitive.

Manish Gupta, Managing Director, Insolation Energy

MANISH GUPTA, Managing Director, Insolation EnergyBlue wafer is an intermediate product between black wafer and solar PV cell. Whatever is the value difference between black wafer and solar PV cell, only 25 percent of value addition is achieved at the stage of getting blue wafer and remaining 75 percent of value addition is achieved when blue wafer is converted into solar cell. Therefore anybody who is converting blue wafer into solar cell in India is actually doing a significant value addition in India. Thus manufacturing process of solar PV cell from blue wafer cannot be termed as cosmetic manufacturing process. To put a manufacturing facility starting from black wafer requires huge investment. Therefore, if blue wafer to solar cell is not treated as domestically manufactured solar PV cell, no additional cell manufacturing capacity will come in India. The solar cell manufacturing capacity will be limited to 4-5 big players who exist in the market today. On the other hand, if blue wafer conversion to solar cell is treated as domestically manufactured solar cell, a number of manufacturing facilities will come in India generating employment and giving boost to ‘Make in India’ policy. Allowing Blue wafers will help to reduce imports of cells and provide much needed indigenous capacity, as well as provide employment. As investment is lower as compared to full wafer to cell processing line, capacity will scale up easily and also allow many manufacturers to enter into it and thus competitiveness of the industry will grow.

Manu Tayal

Manu Tayal

Manu is an Associate Editor at Saur Energy International where she writes and edits clean & green energy news, featured articles and interview industry veterans with a special focus on solar, wind and financial segments.