India's solar mission drives manufacturing

NEW DELHI, March 18 (UPI) -- India's solar market is expected to reach $2.05 billion in 2015, nearly double the $1.05 billion market of 2012, market research firm Frost and Sullivan says.

Frost and Sullivan, in a report, estimates demand for chemicals and materials used in solar cells and modules to increase 22.2 percent until 2015 and module components by 25 percent during the same period.


It cites the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission -- in which the Indian government aims to install 10 gigawatts of PV capacity by 2017 -- as a major boost for India's solar sector. The program also mandates that solar photovoltaic modules based on crystalline technology be sourced domestically.

Solar power generation in India now accounts for less than 1 percent of the country's total power production, or 1.3 gigawatts, compared with 211 gigawatts from all sources combined.

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"With high peak power deficit, erratic crude oil prices, coal shortages and uncertainty of nuclear power, renewable energy sources such as solar power will be the future of sustainable power generation," states the report.

"New opportunities to explore in the market for chemicals and materials used in solar cells and modules are presented with the JNNSM mandating indigenization of solar cells and modules."


The report, however, says that low-cost importation of finished cells and modules from China continues to be a key challenge for India's solar sector.

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Last November, India's Ministry of Commerce officially launched anti-dumping investigations into imported solar cells from China, Taiwan, Malaysia and the United States.

Investment in products that benefit from smaller lead times, backed by government support through the solar mission "will aid in overcoming competition from China," it states. "Continuous innovation to reduce costs and upgrade efficiency will further sustain market expansion."

Hari Manoharan from Indian consulting firm RESolve told PV Magazine that reaching the Solar Mission goal could be difficult to reach because most domestic manufacturers are operating at 10 to 20 percent of their capacity.

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Furthermore, solar power developers are likely to be affected by the trade case, Manoharan said, because "they may not always be able to secure the lowest possible price or the best quality modules."

Adding another wrinkle to India's solar sector, last month the United States launched a complaint with the World Trade Organization over India's National Solar Mission's photovoltaic domestic content requirements policy, saying it is discriminatory against American solar manufacturers.

Growth of India's solar sector over the next five years, Manoharan said, would be driven more by state policies rather than a federal policy such as the solar mission.


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