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India To Appeal WTO Verdict On Domestic Solar Content Usage, Again

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Committed to shielding its solar power equipment manufacturers against the flood of cheap imported solar power modules, the Indian Government is planning to appeal a recent verdict by the World Trade Organization.

Last month, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that a part of India’s National Solar Mission did not conform to international trade laws. The US had challenged India’s program to offer higher capital support to solar power project developers that use modules manufactured or assembled in India. The Indian Government also sets aside a minimum percentage of capacity that must be built using domestically assembled modules.

Speaking to Indian media outlets, officials of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy said that they were ready for such a verdict and are already looking at strategies to challenge the WTO decision. The latest verdict by the WTO was in response to an appeal filed by India against an initial decision announced last year.

An Indian delegation had approached the US representatives to resolve the matter before the WTO delivered its February verdict. The Indian Government is believed to have proposed that domestically assembled modules shall be used in power projects set up only by government-owned companies, while any mandatory use of Indian modules shall not be applicable on any project that sells electricity to commercial entities.

Such a compromise would allow entities like the Indian Railways and the defence forces to rely on Indian modules. The Indian Railways has set a target to add 1 GW solar power capacity while the defence forces have so far committed to build 300 MW capacity.

In all likelihood the Indian Government will press ahead with this compromise. Soon after coming to power the government had rejected calls by the Indian manufacturers to levy anti-dumping duties on imported modules.

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