70% of solar capacity under National Mission used imported modules

M. Ramesh Chennai | Updated on March 22, 2013 Published on March 22, 2013

Despite the local procurement conditions stipulated for solar power projects that are set up under the National Solar Mission, 70 per cent of them have used imported modules or cells.

According to information provided by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, in the last three years 148 grid-connected solar power plants of a total capacity of 551 MW have been commissioned under the National Solar Mission.

Of these, 77 projects of 391 MW capacity, or 70 per cent of the total capacity, are using foreign solar cells or modules—implying that the government’s ‘local procurement’ policy has not quite worked.

The first phase of the solar mission was rolled out in two batches. For the Batch I projects, the project developers neded to use only locally modules. The cells that are made into modules could be imported. However, for the Batch II products, even the cells had to be locally produced. However, these stipulations applied only to ‘crystalline technology’ and not to ‘thin film’—there is no thin film manufacturing capacity in the country,

This lacuna had the effect of several project developers going in for imported thin film modules, which are cheaper.

Today, there is a raging debate in the Indian solar industry. While the domestic cell and module manufacturers want some protection, the solar project developers are totally opposed to it, on the grounds that they should be allowed to take advantage of cheaper equipment available abroad.

Published on March 22, 2013
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