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Published on August 31st, 2015 | by Saurabh Mahapatra


Last Year, 70% of India’s Solar PV Module Imports Came From China

August 31st, 2015 by  

Originally published on Solar Love.

Chinese solar panel manufacturers are dominating players in the Indian solar power market, recently released data by the Indian government show.

According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, India imported 161.5 million solar panels in financial year 2014–15. Of these, 113.5 million panels, or 70%, were imported from China.

This marked a significant increase from the 65% share of Chinese modules in financial year 2013–14. Of the total 154.1 million panels imported that year, 100.4 million came from China.

The share of Chinese modules in India was possibly the highest in most major solar power markets. India is among the few large solar markets that does not impose import duties on Chinese modules.

China is expected to be among the leading suppliers of modules to India in the coming years as well. The Indian government has set a target to have an installed solar power capacity of 100 GW by 2022, and most of this capacity will be in the form of solar PV projects.

Last year, India announced that it would not impose import duties on imported solar panels despite repeated pleas by the Indian module manufacturers that had seen significant erosion of market share.

India has now significantly diluted the mandatory requirement for use of Indian-made solar panels. Only government-owned companies will be required to use Indian-made panels as per a minimum supply requirement. While the first phase of the National Solar Mission required use of a higher percentage of Indian-made solar PV modules, solar power policies enacted by most states did not have such restrictions.

The Gujarat Solar Power Policy of 2009 had no such requirements and it helped in adding around 800 MW of solar power capacity. Recent auctions under the policies of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, and Odisha had little to no restrictions on the use of imported modules.

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About the Author

A young solar enthusiast from India keeping an eye on all regulatory, policy and market updates from one of the fastest emerging solar power markets in the world.

  • Pawan Sharma

    It is very simple. Chinese panels are cheaper. Indian manufacturers were coddled by the previous government with its indian requirement restrictions in solar projects. They became lazy and did not invest in technologies and orocesses that would make them cost effective globally. Now they will be forced to invest or they will die. There is absolutely no reason why Indian manufacturers can not produce cheaper panels. Labor in india is cheaper than in china.

    • Eric Wadge


    • Ronald Brakels

      There is no doubt that India could produce all their own solar panels. The real question is, are there investments that could produce a better rate of return for Indians than solar cell manufacture? At the moment China has provided its PV manfactuers with low interest loans, it has recently devalued its currency making its exports cheaper, and it is desperate to maintain employment and that includes in PV manufacture. This means that it could be more worthwhile for India to invest its limited capital in other areas while getting good deals on solar cells from China. (And it doesn’t have to purchase fully made solar modules. It can import cells and do the less capital intensive module manufacture domestically.)

      Now things change, and in the future India may benefit from producing its own PV and when that happens it can invest in state of the art equipment at that time.

      Full disclosure: I want India to build a huge amount of PV manufacturing capacity right now, as that is likely to benefit me. But I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t point out that India might be better off putting its money into other things for now and sourcing PV from China or any other country that offers good deals.

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  • timbuck93

    Also about how far away is China / India? Shipping must take a tole on the environment / air quality for sure.

    • Ronald Brakels

      And sea transport is cheap per kilometer/tonne and requires little fuel. A slow moving bulk carrier might only use 4 liters of fuel oil to move one tonne 1,000 kilometers. Hence Australia ships bauxite to New Zealand for use in their aluminium smelter. So for something like solar panels that might cost $6,200 a tonne, shipping costs are a pretty trivial portion of the total cost.

      Note that I’m not saying emissions from sea transport are not a problem, just that ocean transport is cheap (particularly at the moment) and generally only a small part of the total emissions involved in getting products to market.

    • No way

      I really hope that you did not have to look up where China and India are located. Then there should be some geography teacher where you live getting fired very very soon.

      • timbuck93

        I used Google Earth first, and it listed the different … countries in India — but it didn’t directly say “India” or “China”, so I went to maps.google.com, and it was clearly labeled there.

        Yeah, I didn’t learn anything in geography class sadly.

      • Bob_Wallace

        There’s this little set of hills called the Himalayas between India and China. Goods have to go the long way around them.

  • AhmetA

    Usa must do the same thing to save planet. Usa is the No.2 polluter but do not do too much thing. Usa is one of the most nationalist countries in the world and they are aganist open market when situation is not benefiting them.

    • Bob_Wallace

      The US has been dropping CO2 output levels since 2005. Not fast enough, but renewable installations are accelerating and coal plants are being closed.

      I’m not sure where you get the idea that the US is against open markets. The only restrictions I’ve seen is where other countries are dumping product, which is not part of an open market.

      The US put zero restrictions on Chinese solar panel imports until China started dumping.

      India needs to solve problems, not try to deflect attention from their problems by throwing stones at other countries.

      • JamesWimberley

        That is, if you believe the “dumping” story. Businesses sell stuff at a loss from time to time within a national market; should this be banned as “unfair competition”?

        • Ronald Brakels

          I’ve got my fingers crossed that China dumps all over us here in Austalia.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I do question the dumping story. I wonder if part of the cost issue was the industry shakeout that resulted in lots of manufacturers selling below cost either to recoup as much invested money as possible or to hold on to market share and keep their factories running.

          There are no regs over “internal dumping” inside China as far as I know. It does look like more than one country outside China has determined that China engaged in unfair trade practices.

  • JamesWimberley

    India’s policy on solar imports is balanced and should be welcomed. The share of the market reserved for domestic producers is large enough to allow them to grow rapidly, often with capable foreign partners. At the same time, the large volume of imports exposes these domestic producers to global standards of quality and innovation. Contrast Brazil.

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