Govt rejects industry plea for import duty on solar modules

M. Ramesh Chennai | Updated on November 13, 2017 Published on December 20, 2011


Incentives for domestic manufacturers ‘being considered'

The Union Government has ruled out the imposition of a customs duty on imported solar modules.

A senior official of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) told Business Line today that the Government is bound by international agreements in which it has committed not to impose customs duty on products used in solar power generation.

The official said the Ministry has received representations from Indian (module and cell) manufacturers seeking duty protection against cheap imports. (The manufacturers allege dumping by the Chinese and selling of modules backed by cheap credit by the Americans.)

The official said that his Ministry had not yet sent its recommendations to the Ministry of Finance. He said that the issue was being examined in the MNRE.

He stressed that the government would “find some way” to protect the local manufacturers. When asked if incentives would be given to the domestic industry, he said “it is being considered.”

Sought Protection

There are 51 module manufacturers in India, nine of whom also make cells. These units have a combined capacity of 1,500 MW. Today, this industry is working at less than a fifth of the capacity, although, thanks to the solar mission and the various state programmes, some 1,000 MW worth of plants are under construction in India. The demand is being met almost entirely by imports. Ironically, at a time when the Rs 80,000-crore National Solar Mission is being rolled out, domestic companies are struggling for a pie of the market.

It is against this backdrop that the local manufacturers have sought protection.

Meeting on net metering

Meanwhile, the MNRE today held a meeting of State electricity regulators, electricity distribution companies, and various officials from the State Governments as well as the Central Electricity Authority, to discuss how to develop the ‘roof-top' solar industry in India. Over 110 people attended the meeting, the MNRE official said.

It is common to find solar water heaters on Indian roofs, but now the idea is to encourage people to put up solar panels on their roofs that would generate electricity to run the house.

A key component of this is ‘net metering', where the energy meter spins backwards when surplus electricity from the rooftops is fed into the grid.

MNRE has asked the CEA to develop a protocol for grid connectivity, the official said.

He said that the potential for rooftop solar could easily be well in excess of 20,000 MW.


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Published on December 20, 2011
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