Rising domestic solar cell production will curb imports from China - Hindustan Times
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Rising domestic solar cell production will curb imports from China

Bloomberg |
Jun 25, 2024 04:52 PM IST

India expects a surge in domestic solar cell-making capacity, which will help reduce its dependence on China for materials to manufacture solar panels.

India expects a surge in domestic solar cell-making capacity in the coming months, which will help reduce its dependence on imported materials from China to manufacture solar panels, the country’s top renewable energy official said.

A private security guard walks between rows of photovoltaic solar panels inside a solar power plant at Raisan village near Gandhinagar, Gujarat (Amit Dave/Reuters)
A private security guard walks between rows of photovoltaic solar panels inside a solar power plant at Raisan village near Gandhinagar, Gujarat (Amit Dave/Reuters)

The nation’s cells capacity is set to jump five-fold to about 30 gigawatts a year by March 2025, Renewable Energy Secretary Bhupinder Singh Bhalla said in an interview in New Delhi.

This will allow the government to widen import restrictions aimed at boosting local adoption of solar power hardware and achieving Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of increasing self-sufficiency in the sector.

Also Read: International Solar Festival to be held in Delhi in September

What are India's current trade barriers on solar technology?

In a bid to wean itself off Chinese imports, India has levied taxes on some solar components and introduced a so-called approved list of models and manufacturers, a non-tariff trade barrier that’s essentially meant to keep foreign shipments out.

US and European officials have also complained that a flood of new supply from Chinese solar companies has overwhelmed global demand and is stymieing efforts to develop their own supply chains. The Biden administration last month issued a suite of rules strengthening tariffs against Chinese solar equipment.

But while India’s domestic module output has already picked up thanks to existing import curbs, manufacturers continue to rely on China for other back-end products that go into making solar panels.

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What will happen to India's solar power sector in the future?

Cells, another component, will be the next item to be restricted, though the government will be more cautious this time around, according to Bhalla.

“We plan to give the industry around two years time to prepare so that we have ample domestic capacity,” Bhalla said. “It should be a firm, forward-looking policy.”

The government had to temporarily withdraw the non-tariff import restriction on modules last year after the local industry complained that tightening supplies were disrupting projects.

Manufacturers are also hoping for higher domestic demand before committing to new capacities, according to Rohit Gadre, a BloombergNEF analyst based in Mumbai.

“In absence of adequate local demand, manufacturers will be looking out for strong growth in the export markets for cells and modules made in India,” Gadre said.

Also Read: Two government schools yet to get solar panels due to infra issues in Ludhiana

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