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Rising Chinese Module Prices Threaten Financial Viability Of Indian Solar Power Projects

An executive at one of the leading solar power developers in India has confirmed to PV Tech that almost all major Chinese module manufacturers have started increasing module prices and renegotiating supply contracts signed earlier.

An executive at one of the leading solar power developers in India has confirmed to PV Tech that almost all major Chinese module manufacturers have started increasing module prices and renegotiating supply contracts signed earlier.

According to PV Tech, all major module suppliers except Trina Solar are now following this practice, putting in jeopardy scores of the projects that have been secured at very low tariff bids in recent months across India. The development is expected to impact project implementation plans of several leading solar project developers which have already been stung by the rapidly increasing competition in the sector.

Increased demand for modules in China and a reduced supply of polysilicon are been touted as the primary reasons for the price hike. These in turn are the result of the huge rise in capacity addition in China. Another possible reason for the renegotiation of contracts could be the ongoing anti-dumping investigation by the Indian government over import of Chinese modules.

China added 24.4 gigawatts of solar PV capacity during the first six months of 2017, including 13.5 gigawatts in June itself. This increased capacity addition was backed by a 28% increase in solar cells production and a 26% increase in solar module production. Developers rushed to install projects before July 1, when the feed-in tariffs were set for downward revision by 13-19%.

And while capacity addition in July fell to 10.5 gigawatts, it was about the same capacity that India managed to add in the entire calendar year of 2016. The fall, which is expected to continue, is the result of a shift in focus from a feed-in tariff regime toward the ‘Top Runner’ project that aims at installation of projects with new solar modules with promise of better performance.

Indian solar PV developers are now staring at a 21% jump in module prices, which can significantly alter the financials of their under-construction and planned projects. The massive correction in solar module prices of the last several months encouraged the Indian developers to bid at never-before-seen tariff bids.

Since the launch of the National Solar Mission in India, solar tariff bids have collapsed from a high of Rs 17.91/kWh (28¢/kWh) in 2010 to the current low of Rs 2.42/kWh (3.8¢/kWh). The recent correction in tariff bids has been even sharper. Between February and May 2017 solar PV tariff bids in India collapsed by 26%.

Even before the Chinese started renegotiating the supply contracts there were questions about the financial viability of the these new projects, which will have tariffs cheaper than 92% of the thermal power plants installed in India. 

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An avid follower of latest developments in the Indian renewable energy sector.


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