Cos jittery as govt plans import of solar power tools
NEW DELHI (ET): The government’s decision to import solar power equipment for its flagship clean energy programme has run into strong opposition from domestic equipment makers, who have argued that it will open up the floodgates for import of cheaper and sub-standard equipment from China.
The government is contemplating import of cells (photo voltaic) and modules from other countries for the its Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.“The national solar mission, which will be implemented using Indian taxpayers money, is somehow becoming the reason for many countries to dump their untested, sub-standard solar products in the country,” said Ajay Prakash Shrivastava, president, Maharishi Solar Technology.
The mission aims to add 20,000 mw of grid connected power by the year 2020, said a government official adding that imported equipment will allow faster commissioning of solar projects.
But the industry was hoping for a strong local sourcing by the government, which could have given a boost to the development of new technology and investment. The domestic equipment industry, represented by companies such as Tata BP Solar, KSK Surya, Indo Solar, Moser Baer, has asked the ministry of new and renewable energy sources to encourage foreign investment in manufacturing while curbing imports. The draft guidelines on selection of solar projects under phase-I programme of the mission has also emphasised on the need to boost domestic manufacturing by including a mandatory domestic content criterion.
“India has ample capacities to fulfil the objectives of the mission with best quality products and therefore, there is no need to allow the import of solar PV products from outside,” Mr Srivastava said. Solar power projects will have 25-year power purchase agreements requiring quality equipment and legal recourse in case of poor or non performance. “This will be difficult to ensure in case non-Indian products are used,” said Tata BP Solar CEO K Subramanya.
Many countries impose domestic content clauses on importers. Canada mandates minimum domestic content level of 50%; China has given a $586-billion stimulus package to those projects that purchase local products.
These clauses have not acted as disincentive for investment. Samsung has signed a $6.6 billion deal with the Canadian government to build 2,500 mw of wind and solar power projects, by establishing manufacturing facilities that will build the necessary equipment locally.