Solar Grade Nitric Acid Exemplifies Innovation & Progress in India’s Solar Sector

Highlights :

By  Shanmugananth M., President – Industrial Chemical, Deepak Fertilisers and Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd (DFPCL)

Solar Grade Nitric Acid Exemplifies Innovation & Progress in India’s Solar Sector Shanmugananth M, President – Industrial Chemicals, Deepak Fertilisers And Petrochemicals Corporation Limited

In recent years, India has become a major player in the global solar energy scenario. By February 2023, the country had an impressive total renewable energy capacity of 168.96 gigawatts (GW), including 64.38 GW from solar power. However, to meet the 2030 goal of reaching 280 GW in solar capacity, India needs to add about 30 GW of solar energy each year. Interestingly, even though India has many solar installations, its presence in Photo Voltaic (PV) cell manufacturing remains limited.


Currently, India’s solar cell and PV module production capacity stands at around 4 GW and 16 GW, respectively. However, the domestic solar cell industry faces challenges due to low production capacity, resulting in heavy reliance (~80%) on imports from neighbouring Asian countries such as China, Vietnam, and Malaysia. To address this, the industry is diligently working to enhance domestic manufacturing capabilities, aiming for self-sufficiency and reduced import dependency.

Government Inititatives

The Indian Government has launched the PLI scheme to attract investments in this sector and introduced initiatives like the ‘National Programme on High Efficiency Solar PV Modules.’ The Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for High Efficiency Solar PV Modules is a government-led effort in India focused on promoting domestic manufacturing of high-efficiency solar PV modules. This scheme falls under the National Programme on High Efficiency Solar PV, which aims to boost the country’s solar energy capacity and reduce dependence on imports.

Looking Ahead: Solar Grade Nitric Acid

Estimates suggest that India’s PV cell manufacturing capacity will surge from 4 GW in FY2021 to about 80 GW by FY2026. This presents a significant opportunity in the sector, aided by an innovative specialty product – Solar Grade Nitric Acid. This product is designed to enable PV cell manufacturers to achieve greater efficiency from PV Cells.

In the dynamic landscape of India’s solar industry, Solar Grade Nitric Acid (SNA) emerges as a critical catalyst, propelling the nation towards a more eco-friendly and sustainable future. SNA’s influence extends beyond shaping the growth of the solar cell industry; it also plays a substantial role in advancing India’s broader Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals.

The production of solar cells involves intricate processes, where Solar Grade Nitric Acid plays a pivotal role. Multicrystalline silicon wafers, a key component of solar cells, undergo a process called texturing. This involves an isotropic acidic etch using a solution containing Nitric Acid (HNO3), hydrofluoric acid (HF), and acetic acid (CH3COOH). This texturing process significantly contributes to the efficient conversion of sunlight into clean energy.

In 2020, the demand for Nitric Acid (68% to 72%) for solar cell manufacturing in India stood at around 4,200 MT/year, valued at INR 26 to 28 Crore. Approximately 1.1 to 1.5 MT of Nitric Acid is required to produce 1 MW of polycrystalline solar cells. This demand is projected to grow in parallel with the expansion of solar cell production capacity, which is set to reach 80 GW by 2025-26.

The Indian government has taken commendable steps to promote the solar industry through introducing Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme in two phases, which aims to establish integrated solar PV manufacturing plants, targeting ~48 GW capacity in next three years. .

    • Phase I: Investment of ~Rs. 4,500 crores for 8.7 GW integrated solar PV manufacturing capacities.
    • Phase II: Allocated a total 39.6 GW of integrated solar PV module manufacturing capacity to 11 companies, with a total investment of Rs 13,940 Crores

As the industry embraces advanced technologies like passivated emitter rear contact (PERC) mono crystalline cell technology, the demand dynamics for Solar Grade Nitric Acid may evolve. However, the price-sensitive Indian market will continue to favour multicrystalline solar panels, ensuring a sustained demand for SNA.

Solar Grade Nitric Acid symbolizes innovation and progress in India’s solar sector. Its contributions to enhancing solar cell efficiency, boosting local production, and supporting the nation’s ESG goals are undeniable. As India has set a target to achieve 500 GW of renewable energy capacity, including solar power, by the year 2030, Solar Grade Nitric Acid plays a crucial role in driving the nation toward a brighter, more sustainable future.

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