Indian solar module manufacturers are in a hyperdrive to get some kind of duty on imported modules as the country stands at the cusp of perhaps the most massive solar power tender spree the world has ever seen.
As India’s Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties considers a petition filed by the Indian Solar Manufacturers Association (ISMA) to levy anti-dumping duties on solar modules and cells imported from China, Taiwan, and Malaysia, another petition has been filed by the ISMA to levy a Safeguard Duty on imported solar cells from China, Singapore, Taiwan, and Malaysia.
Indian solar panel and cell manufacturers submitted a strong case in their petition to the Directorate General of Safeguards backed by data that highlights their plight.
According to the ISMA, the share of Indian-made solar cells has dropped to 7% of the total demand in the country. The share of imported solar cells has increased from 86% in FY2014-15 to 90% in FY2017-18. Capacity utilization of production facilities has been on the rise over the last three years but has dropped sharply this year. Capacity utilization topped 72% in FY2016-17 before falling to 51% in FY2017-18.
The number of people employed at the solar cell manufacturing firms, as well as the profit of these firms, has also collapsed over the last four years while the inventory has increased four times during this time.
While the safeguards levy case will take its time, progress is being made on the anti-dumping duties case. The embassies of China, Taiwan, and Malaysia had to submit written submission in this case by 19 December 2017 while ISMA has to respond by 2 January 2018. The Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties found weight in the case of ISMA while admitting the petition.
The sudden activity from the ISMA seeking various duties on imported solar modules and cells could be in the response to the aggressive timeline announced by the Indian government to auction 74 gigawatts of solar power capacity between January 2018 and March 2020, which offers a once-in-lifetime business opportunity for the companies.