India's Solar Industry: Exporting Success, Importing Dependency
While actions taken by the USA on restricting solar cell imports from China have led to a boost in exports from India, the country continues to depend on China for its own needs.
October 26, 2023. By Anurima Mondal
With most of the solar cells going to the US, India has witnessed a 12-fold jump in the first eight months of 2023, as compared to the same period in 2022.
While actions taken by the USA on restricting solar cell imports from China have led to a boost in exports from India, the country continues to depend on China for its own needs which has led to a strange situation in industry. Meanwhile, other countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia also see India as an attractive market.
As per an analysis done on the government data on India’s exports and imports of PV cells assembled in modules or panels and cells that have not been assembled, the country exported USD 1.3 billion of both the types of cells in the January-August 2023 period, up from USD 108 million in the same period of 2022.
At the same time, though, India’s imports of both types of cells increased from USD 879 million in January-August 2022 to USD 2.5 billion in January-August 2023.
With an aim to cut imports and increase local manufacturing, the government decided to levy a customs duty of 40 percent on solar modules and 25 percent on solar cells from April 1, 2022. PLI scheme is also in place to scale up India’s manufacturing capabilities.
Earlier this month, the government launched Standards & Labelling Programme for solar panels. During the launch, Power Minister RK Singh announced that the government will work towards 100 percent ‘Made in India’ solar PV modules of the best quality.
“We will bring in a policy after 2 years, under which even PV Cells should be manufactured in India and not imported from elsewhere. After a further two years, we will insist on wafer to be made in India so that our solar panels will be 100 percent 'Made in India' and high-quality solar panels, where first cells and later wafers too shall be Made in India. India is not going to be satisfied with second best; we want nothing but the best. So, lesser efficient panels will be removed from the Approved List of Models and Manufacturers (ALMM) over time; outdated models will not be endorsed by the government,” he added.
According to some experts, the government has taken various steps to encourage the domestic production of these solar cells; however, the price at which they are sold is comparatively higher than imported cells which has forced Indian solar developers to rely on imported cells.
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