Investors should be free From Government’s Complex Policies The government should come up with clear cut and well laid out policies as at present the Indian solar sector is totally dependent on it, believes Chetan Shah, Director, Goldi Green Technologies, one of the fastest growing Solar PV Module manufacturing companies in India.
In conversation with Aaqib Javeed, Sub Editor, Saur Energy-International, Shah spoke at length by sharing his company plans and the challenges currently facing the solar industry.
The following are excerpts from that exclusive interview.
Q. To begin with, please share with us the commitment of Goldi Green Technologies towards the solar sector in India?
Having initially begun operations with a small capacity in 2011, Goldi Green has rapidly increased its capacity to meet the growing demand for its solar PV modules. Today Goldi Green has an annual manufacturing capacity of 500MW with plans to take it to 1GW in a short time. Besides staying ahead with the technology curve, we have continuously kept ourselves upgraded and enhanced our product quality to deliver better efficiencies with robust design.
Q. How do you see the current scenario of the Indian solar industry?
The Indian solar industry is growing and is one of the fastest developing markets globally besides China and the US. Both international and domestic players have a lot of hopes for India.
If you take a look at the past three years of India’s track record, all major corporations that were not in the solar business before are now turning into solar outfits or branching out into solar. This shows that the market is sustainable.
Q. It seems industry is divided over the proposed anti-dumping duty on solar imports? How would you like to respond on this issue?
The anti-dumping duty (ADD) when imposed will slightly affect the growth of the Indian solar sector. But, it is a positive move. In India there’s a saying that medicine is always bitter.
If you want to sell something in the Chinese market, you must manufacture it in China. This can be made true for India, too.
At present, we have the manufacturing capability and reputation but the policy framework to encourage domestic manufacturing from government is lacking. Chinese products are available at much lower prices and that is hindering the growth of Indian manufacturing.
There should be some barriers, some walls to restrict the imported supply of such goods at such low prices. This will result in investors, stakeholders, and manufacturers considering India as a manufacturing hub. As of now, many solar project installations are taking place in India but no one knows what will happen to these projects in regard to warranties and long-term performance.
The government is infusing millions of dollars in subsidies to promote the sector. All of this will be fruitful once the ADD is levied. The ADD is not a long-term solution, as I said before it will only slightly affect the growth of solar in India for the time being. I believe the growth of the Indian solar industry should be domestic inclusive, and to achieve that the short term and long-term action plans should be in place. The imposition of the ADD will balance out the markets. The ADD should be imposed for a control period of up to five years. This would provide local manufacturers with the market visibility they need to scale up. Even foreign manufacturers would be willing to set up plants in India.
Indian products are respected around the world in terms of product quality and serviceability, the ADD will help manufacturers by securing a level playing field.
Q. As a module manufacturer, how do you ensure the quality check, test results certifications of your PV modules?
Goldi Green modules are manufactured in an ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015 & OHSAS 18001:2007 certified, fully automatic, robotic and dust free facility. Goldi Green panels undergo various stringent quality checks right from the initial stage of the production process. We source the best raw materials from reputed international companies and our modules undergo in-house reliability checks at various stages. Our modules are tested by third party laboratories of international repute (SGS-TUV-SAAR & UL India).
Besides being PID free our modules are certified for IEC61215, IEC61730, UL1703, IEC61701, IEC62716, IEC62804 (PID) and CE Marking. We are also one of the very few global companies having 4mm glass certification and the first Indian company to be audited by SolarBuyer, USA.
Q. How should India scale up its module manufacturing capacity? What are your target/expectations for 2018?
Solar manufacturing is a demand oriented business. At present, counting all the companies that have unveiled expansion plans in India, the country is on track to have a cumulative module manufacturing capacity of above 10 GW. This means that now is the time to invest in cell manufacturing.
10 GW of module lines need 10 GW of cell lines. It takes up to nine months to set up a cell line and roll out the first batch of products. Cell manufacturers are now ensured of continued demand, so they should scale up so that their capacity parallels module lines.
Once that is achieved, manufacturers should start looking towards wafers, ingots, and polysilicon.
Goldi Green has already expanded from 130 MW to 500 MW and by June 2018 we will have 1 GW of module manufacturing capacity.
Q. What’s your take on the recent budget announced by ArunJaitley as far as the renewable sector is concerned?
One of the positive announcements in the budget was the reduction of customs duty on tempered glass for solar to zero from the existing 5%. Apart from the budget announcements, introduction of GST has been a blessing for this sector with many local and state taxes being scraped.
Q. In your opinion, what challenges India’s solar sector is currently facing and what should be done to tackle those challenges and meet the country’s ambitious clean energy targets?
First of all it is the need of the hour to come out with clear cut and well laid out policies from the government. Secondly, there should not be any conflicting of goals or interests between different government bodies and implementing agencies, which has ultimately hampered the pace of progress.
With the burgeoning population of our country, the solar industry would prove to be the most effective in providing ample employment opportunities. Solar companies are pumping in huge investments in capacity expansions and creating thousands of jobs too, but lack of effective implementation of different announcements by central government bodies can prove to be a dampener raising concerns among the industry players.
At present the Indian solar sector is totally dependent on the government. Every day the government is expected to do something for the solar industry which creates uncertainty. The government should only restrict itself to defining the sector and the rules, policies, and laws governing or pertaining to it. After that, the individuals, industrialists, and investors should be free and independent within those boundaries.
India has reached 20GW of cumulative solar installations till January 2018, which was the initial goal and which though it took eight years to complete, has been four years ahead of schedule.
Now installing another 80GW in a course of five years to achieve 100GW by 2022 is indeed a herculean task but not impossible.