US thin film photovoltaic cell and module manufacturer First Solar is keen on forming joint ventures in India for putting up solar plants, the company’s Chief Executive Jim Hughes told analysts recently.

“In India, we are in discussions on a whole series of joint venture relationships and I think over the remainder of the year we will get to a point of public announcement on some of those,” Mr Hughes said.

This marks a shift in the India strategy of First Solar, which has hitherto only sold PV panels. Now, the company is donning a new role as a project developer as well.

“We expect to win 20 per cent of the market this year and on a go-forward basis,” he said.

Financial backing from the US ExIm Bank has been helpful.The US Export-Import Bank just announced it approved loans to two Indian solar project developers totaling $57 million for the purchase of First Solar modules. We continue to maintain a close working relationship with ExIm, which plays an important role by providing financing in challenging markets like India.

“We are in the process of building and developing our full EPC capability in the Indian market,” Hughes said.

“Each market is unique, necessitating a market-specific organisational structure and customer strategy. With this in mind, we have recently hired a regional lead for India, Sujoy Ghosh, formerly of General Electric, who has over 20 years of industry experience in India and close ties within the local energy industry, he said.

mramesh@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 6, 2012)
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