EQ In Exclusive Conversation With Mr. Gyanesh Chaudhary, Founder & Director – Vikram Solar
1.The first question is on safeguard duty which is expiring on July 31. There is no announcement of what is going to happen between August to March. What do you think is going to be the impact on Indian makers?
Yes, it is absolutely true that safeguard duty is sunsetting by the end of this month. Yes, it will definitely impact the manufacturers but considering Vikram Solar, we should be able to mitigate this timeframe. Also, considering Basic Custom Duty will be applicable from April 2022, this is going to be a little short-lived.
2.Would the 40% duty on modules and 25% duty on cells be sufficient to safeguard the interest of Indian manufacturers?
As far as 40% duty on modules and 25% duty on cells is concerned, I think, it is a good start. It may not be sufficient to ward off Chinese, especially as far as cell is concerned. But, definitely, it is going to act as a positive push towards creating an Indian manufacturing ecosystem to cater to the large demand.
3.What is your view on upcoming technology? What is going to be its impact?
In terms of technology, I think, when we envision setting up our Chennai facility, we looked at how best we can leverage the global western class and achieve that within Vikram Solar. In fact, that has been the cornerstone for success in the last 15 years.
We have been able to be right at the heel of the global best in class product. And, we have been able to replicate the technology and produce commercial-scale solutions for products in India. A similar exercise happened for Chennai and I think it will continue to happen.
What we are looking at going forward is Mono PERC technology taking precedence over all other technology just because of its achievable higher efficiency and the R&D that’s going in it. Going forward, we have a lot of multiple options like TOPCon, Perovskites and so many other things. Semiconductor is one such space where Sky is the limit with respect to technology and upgradations.
But, to achieve commercial-scale success, it takes slightly longer and that gives us (manufacturers) enough scope to invest in technology and see it achieve commercial success and be able to continue to invest and achieve optimum efficiencies as per global standards. Because we are in export industry and we are the largest exporter of our product, we want to make sure that we are able to compete with best in class and we have been so far.
4. There has been a rise in prices of raw materials used in making of modules, and subsequently, module price rise has not happened, and thus, the margins of Indian Module manufacturers are already affected. What is your opinion on this?
I feel that pricing is such a volatile concept, especially in renewables. The demand and supply as well as the polysilicon is something that is probably unlocking the trends that we have seen currently. COVID 19, obviously, has not played a Stabilizing role.
Rather, we saw initial period prices drop phenomenally because there were no offtakers. Then towards the third and fourth quarters, there was an upswing because projects started coming on-stream. It is actually a function of demand and supply. What I expect from the industry and the overall offtake standpoint, I think, there will be stabilization because the technology is maturing. The industry has matured and there is a factor of the backlog which will ensure that there is enough and more product available to cater to all projects.
5. What is your view on PLI Scheme? Are you participating in the PLI Scheme?
My view is that it is probably the most significant initiative by the Government of India to promote the manufacturing of solar products. Long overdue, but nevertheless, very welcome. I think that this will change the landscape of manufacturing for India, bring in a lot of consistency as well as create an ecosystem that will allow Indian manufacturers to compete with global players and create a large scale platform for manufacturers like us to grow.
Whether Vikram Solar is participating or not, it remains to be seen. We are still under serious and critical deliberations on the tenets of the scheme and we will be able to talk about that at a later date.