As March 31 Deadline Looms, ALMM Set To Rule Again

Highlights :

  • The phasing out of ALMM exemptions by March 31 will signal a renewed focus on domestic manufacturers for Indian market.
As March 31 Deadline Looms, ALMM Set To Rule Again

Any hope developers might have had of the kind of exemptions the MNRE provided (before withdrawing them within a week) seem to be evaporating as the fiscal year deadline approaches.

Readers will recall that  the Approved List of Module Manufacturers(ALMM) requirement has been used as an effective non-tariff barrier by the government to support domestic industry. With not a single foreign manufacturer accepted or provided certification for acceptance on the list, the government effectively tried to limit the market for large domestic projects for local manufacturers. This was met with resistance from developers, and led to the first major move to hold ALMM in abeyance till March 31, 2024, in an announcement around this time last year.

Even as manufacturers waited for the March 2024, deadline a notification from MNRE last month allowed imports for projects at ‘advanced stages’ of construction, throwing the industry into disarray once again. The protests seem to have worked, as within a week, the order was withdrawn.

Now, with close to 40 GW of operational domestic capacity, and more being added every quarter, the MNRE finally seems to have come around to the view that domestic capacity can meet demand, even after accounting for exports. Keep in mind that capacity added during this fiscal by project developers is likely to be under 14 GW finally, a far cry from the talk of 25 to 30 GW of capacity additions.

Going ahead, local manufacturers are likely to see strong demand under PM KUSUM, PM Surya Ghar, and other fresh utility scale projects, ensuring higher capacity utilisation for their manufacturing operations.

Exemptions if any for some developers will probably be linked to the status of their projects on ground, including possibly the arrival of imported modules in ports or at project site.

The move to protect domestic industry comes at a time when even solar inverter makers, another key solar segment dominated by China based firms, has seen an unofficial  slow down in providing BIS certification for selling in the India market, perplexing many in the market.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International