Opinion is divided on the recent proposal of Director General (DG) of Safeguards to impose a provisional 70% safeguard duty on solar cell imports for a period of 200 days. While the move has raised questions over the viability of upcoming solar projects, a section of the industry holds that it would boost domestic manufacturing and create a level-playing field before the awaited surge in renewable auctions – the Centre has already announced its intention to auction another 60 GW of solar projects by FY20. But first the essentials. Imported solar modules are 8-10% cheaper than those made in India, making them vital for cheap renewable power – solar modules comprise about 60% of total project costs. About 88% of module requirements are met through imports. In FY17, imports of 88% and 7% of solar cells — the basic component of modules — took place from China and Malaysia, respectively.
India’s production capacity for solar cells stands at 3.2 GW and that for modules at 8.5 GW. Given the targets set by the Centre, prioritising the ‘Make in India’ policy could thus hamper the green energy mission. The proposed duty came on the back of an application for probe filed by the Indian Solar Manufacturing Association (ISMA). Dhruv Sharma, governing council member, ISMA, says the probe found that “aggressive dumping of solar cells and modules from China, Taiwan and Malaysia is causing significant injury to domestic manufacturers,” and the duty “will trigger large investment in solar manufacturing in a short time”. Read More…
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