Domestic Solar Manufacturing Could Benefit From Pandemic

Supply disruption from China and the decline in domestic solar capacity addition due to the pandemic offers a golden opportunity to local solar manufacturing

Solar Manufacturing Pandemic

The supply disruption from China due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent decline in domestic solar capacity addition offers a golden opportunity to ramp up local manufacturing of solar modules and cells, according to industry experts.

However, the industry feels there is an urgent need for a national vision policy for local solar modules manufacturing as well as ancillary products, in line with solar power generation target of 100 GW by 2022 under National Solar Mission. Till 2011, India controlled 70-80 percent of global supplies of solar modules, but today the opposite is the case, as 80-90 percent of modules are imported, as domestic modules are not cost-effective.

“The COVID pandemic is a wake-up call for us. We must focus on domestic manufacturing but for that to happen we need a long-term business proposition.

“We’ve world-class technology, but we don’t have scale-like China. For manufacturing to succeed, we need a policy framework that ensures long term off-takes at sustainable prices,” Tata Power Solar managing director and chief executive Ashish Khanna told local news agency PTI.

Vikram Solar chief executive Saibaba Vutukuri also underlines the need to focus on local manufacturing.

“The vision of 100 GW solar capacity by 2022 is fantastic and can be achieved. But to meet the target, there is a need to push local manufacturing so that our dependence on imports comes down,” Vutukuri said.

Noting that till 2011 India was one of the largest exporters of the best-in-class modules, he said with a strong policy push we can reclaim that position again and we need to learn a lesson or two from China in building scale.

“Realising the huge potential, China changed its focus from generation to manufacturing of solar modules and set up large plants that offered them economies of scale, helping it lower the cost and capture global market,” he said.

Recently, we had reported that the COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent lockdown, is expected to cause delays in commissioning of wind projects in India due to disruptions to the supplies from China

Somik Das, Senior Power Analyst at GlobalData had said that “with time extension granted to developers, the government has provided relief to project developers facing shutdowns due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic has led to a lockdown due to its high contagiousness. According to the new policy, developers will be able to apply for extended construction schedules if they show evidence and documents proving that the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting their supply chains.”

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