Indian PV Modules Are Gaining Global Traction: Atul Kamathi, Grew Energy

Indian PV Modules Are Gaining Global Traction: Atul Kamathi, Grew Energy

Atul Kamathi is the Vice President (EPC) of Grew Renewables Pvt Ltd, an Indian solar module manufacturer. In a short-duration interview with Saur Energy at the sideline of ReneX exhibition in Hyderabad, Kamathi talks about the journey of the Grew, the likely future of the Indian module manufacturing sector, and others. A venture of the Chiripal Group, Grew Energy has been a classic instance of the strong interest and investments the solar sector has attracted in recent years from established industrial groups. In this case, an early win has been selection for the government’s performance linked incentive (PLI) scheme for module manufacturing. 

Excerpts from the interview:

Grew started its operations in 2021. So how has the company fared till now?

Our journey has been fantastic till now. Everything we planned, from modules to cells, has become realities. They were well implemented on the ground. There are some hurdles from the regulatory and land acquisition issues, but we are in the right direction. We recently also won under the Production Linked Scheme (Tranche II) for 2GW of renewable projects. 

How much is the Indian PV module industry still dependent on China or other countries?

The Indian government’s increased Basic Customs Duty (BCD) was critical in curtailing imports from China. The Chinese players also have their ways of getting their cells into India (By exporting from other countries where they have a manufacturing base, like Vietnam, Malaysia etc). The Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme has come as a shot in the arm for domestic industry. It has around Rs 19,000 crore allocations for Indian manufacturers to develop the domestic modules. We are now coming with the next generation of technologies. We are also going from backward integration from modules to cells. With the process and support of the government, we will be very competitive in the market. The global acceptance of Indian modules here is also increasing day by day. In both these things, we see a perfect future.

Which projects seem most promising to you out of the different forms of solar projects?

Today the utility-scale power plant is a game changer. If you want zero emissions, ground-mounted or rooftop projects could be a significant game changers along with utility-scale projects. Thus more focus should be put on this.

How do you see the future of Indian PV manufacturing?

The Indian module manufacturers still have some dependency on other foreign countries. But in the next 5-6 years, the solar equipment manufacturing landscape will see a significant transformation as domestic production across the value chain comes online. Dependence on imports is set to reduce considerably, with India on the right track. 

How much transformation have you seen in the industry in the last decade?

Ten years back, we had minimal module manufacturing capacities. Two hundred seventy watts (output) of the module was the most efficient module, which stayed for a very long time. However, technology has shifted to a large extent in the last decade. There are other design changes, like half-cut cells, M10, and M12, which have become game changers in the industry with improved efficiency. These developed technologies have also come at ever lower prices, providing a huge fillip to the adoption of solar and its future prospects.   

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