Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has proposed that import duty on solar-tempered glass or solar tempered (anti-reflective coated), used for manufacture of solar cells, modules, and panels be reduced from the 5 per cent earlier to zero now. This has for obvious reasons received cheer from the renewable energy sector in India. This is consistent with the Indian dream of harnessing solar energy and accelerating the renewable energy sector. Eliminating import duty on components which constitute solar panels and other equipment is a welcome step. The decision comes as a relief for the domestic manufacturers of solar equipment in India.
However, there are disappointing aspects too in Union Budget 2018-19 tabled in Parliament, particularly with respect to the renewable energy sector in India. Faced with growing uncertainties in the domestic market, the green technology industry has been hoping for a few subsidies as well as incentives to compensate the increasing costs of project development in India. However, to the green industry’s disappointment, no specific subsidies, incentives, or grants have been made public for Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
On the other hand, the Union Budget 2018 has allocated Rs. 2.17 billion (~$34 million) to state-owned entity Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI). The allocation has been made under internal and external budgetary resources. During his Budget 2018 speech, Arun Jaitley also made another announcement that the government will take measures in order to encourage various state governments to put up a mechanism which will ensure that surplus solar power generated by farmers using solar pumps is purchased by the distribution companies (DISCOMs). This too can be an impetus for the renewable energy sector in India.
Moreover, the government has plans to deploy greater numbers of electric vehicles (EVs)—the first batch of which was delivered a few months back. The EV industry in still picking up pace and will need such encouragement.
Overall, the Union Budget 2018 is a mixed bag as far as development of the renewable energy sector is concerned.