India’s Solar Panel Imports In Last 5 Years- Vietnam, Malaysia Pick Up Slack From China

India’s Solar Panel Imports In Last 5 Years- Vietnam, Malaysia Pick Up Slack From China

The Union Minister for Power and New and Renewable Energy, R.K. Singh recently shared data on solar panel imports into India in the past 5 years. Sourced from the Export Import Data Bank of the Ministry of Commerce, the figures make for interesting reading.

For instance, data claimed between 2022-23 and 2023-24 (6 months) even as solar panel imports from Mainland China are 42% below last year’s figures at  $501.9 million versus $874.9 last year, imports from Vietnam (up from $39.6 million to $455.8 million), and Malaysia  (up from $1.24 million to $43.08 million) have more than filled the gap in the first six months. And with ALMM being in abeyance and the slide in module prices that continued post September as well, imports from China to finish on a strong note as well.

The strong numbers from these regions also indicates the shift in manufacturing outside China by many Chinese firms to circumvent restrictions in key markets like the US, with some output finding its way to India as well as lower rates that the BCD rates.

Overall, even as solar panel imports in 2022-23 slumped over 71% to $943 million from $3363 million in 2021-22, reflecting the full impact of the basic customs duty rate of 40% and 25% on module and cell imports from China, the slump in China module prices has ensured a revival. The trend so far in 2023-24 seems to be one of a strong recovery with over $1136 million of imports in the first half of the year.

With the ALMM deadline of March 2024, expect a rush of orders at the current depressed rates globally, even as domestic manufacturers await the end of the ALMM exempt period to see a strong domestic recovery as well.

Even as indicators have come in about the return of ALMM restrictions on solar panel use in domestic projects, many industry observers believe that the government might yet take a calibrated view on the issue post March next year, and rather than a full phase out, might seek to provide some space to projects that have revived or are competitive only at the current low import rates. Thus, a simple benchmark might be government conviction that domestic capacity can deliver the over 20GW of high efficiency modules required for the country annually, a milestone that seems set to be achieved in 2024-25.

With the critical role of storage and RTC projects that is foreseen in the coming years, there is even a view that significant projects under these categories might continue to enjoy some exemptions.

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