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Interview with Mr. Chandrasekhara ,Director,Four-C-Tron

Interview with Mr. Chandrasekhara ,Director,Four-C-Tron


1) What is your view on the performance of Hon’ble PM ShriNarendraModi, Hon’ble Minister ShriPiyushGoyal& New BJP Government in the last 1 year?

Prime Minister Mr. Modi has done good marketing at National and International level exposing the strength of India for investors to have more confidence to look at India as right destination to invest. He has also initiated at Paris summit “International Solar Alliance” to realise the potential of solar power by member countries which prompted USD 1 trn in investment. He volunteered to have the Alliance HQ in India with an investment of USD 30 Million. Β Power Minister Mr.PiyushGoyal has given new dimension to renewable energy sector and in particular solar power. No wonder if other side of BJP stand for Bhanu (solar), Jal (water) Parivartan (transformation) ie, BJP is committed to transform India to have clean energy and water. Β Β 

2) Including Renewable Projects under Priority Sector Lending by RBI…Kindly comment and express your views

RBI: Nationalized Banks were not coming forward to fund solar projects on the pretext that ROI and profit margin is low and module prices were going down. In 2008 the module price was Rs.160 to 180 per watt and today the price per watt is Rs.30 to 34. But RBI directive to banks to earmark 40% of their net credit to priority sector including solar energy will be shot in the arm for SME’s to take up roof top installations on war foot to achieve 40 GW target reserved for this sector. Banks and post offices can launch Roof Top solar schemes to their clients like car loans.

3) Government took a bold decision of not imposing Anti-Dumping Duties on Solar Modules/Cells Imports….What are its effects…Please express your views.Β 

Not imposing anti-dumping duty has resulted in free import of modules at low price than domestically manufactured module price. The other side is what is the reliability of these modules and what is the guarantee that companies who sold the modules will exist for another 15 to 25 years till the life of modules unless they are covered under Insurance. Β The fair play would have been to make it mandatory for every EPC bidder to get 50% of the modules from local and balance by import. This will create competition and make local module lines to run full capacity and monitor the performance of modules over the years. The field data will also help in rating the vendors for future supply – both domestic and overseas.

As per Mr. PiyushGoyal’s recent statement to Loksabha, 15.41 crore solar panels were imported in 2013-14, 16.15 crore panels imported in 2014-15 and during 1Q-2015 4.41 crore solar panels were imported. Nearly 65 to 70% import was from China. In terms of GW, assuming 230 Watt as average output per module, the total import of panel translates to nearly 82.72 GW over the period of 27 months. The minister also stated that as of Nov 26, 2015 total installed solar power generation capacity is 4.666 GW. This gives doubt to question where is the balance 78 GW of imported solar panels installed or has it gone underground by hoarders to ‘Make hey while sun shines’- waiting for the rise in module price due to long delivery, short supply of wafers and cells – which is likely to happen in coming months as every country is promoting solar projects with set targets and time frame.

4) Do you foresee the Anti-Dumping might come back anytime in future?

Anti-dumping may come back due to negative impact of import in large quantity as brought out earlier.Β When incentive or zero duty can continue on consumables to encourage local manufacturing of cells and modules, it would be wiser to impose anti-dumping duty on unframed and framed modules to encourage domestic manufacturing sector. This will also fit into the frame of ‘Make in India’ vision of Prime Minister.

5) Do you think the target of 100GW Solar by 2022 is achievable….What are the challenges and roadblocks.

If you take the statement of Power Minister, 82.72 GW modules have already landed in India. To complete 100 GW target by 2022,only 18 GW modules Β are required in a span of 6 years ie., 3 GW / annum production. If import continues with just the carrot & stick for local manufacturers, solar mission will be successful with no challenges.

The local manufacturers like Adani, Emmvee, Vikram, Waaree, Tata Power, Rolta, Sova Power are in capacity expansion spree with the hope that all their production will be channelized towards mission completion plus export market. If modules are imported at the same trend, the local manufacturers will end up with under-utilized capacity of line and find hard to compete as all the Β consumables except Aluminium frame for the modules are imported now because Β local cell,EVA, backsheet, ribbon and glass manufacturers cannot meet the demand of over 110 module manufacturers.

The roadblocks are finance at high interest rate, land availability, evacuation to grid, maintenance of PV plant for 25 years by project executors or third parties. Since the introduction of solar mission in 2011 and completion of 4.66 GW installations, is performance data available on-line on each project to public?

6) Is the Government taking right steps in achieving the targets?

In my opinion, Government run organizations should have thought ofΒ establishing poly-silicon,wafer and cell manufacturing facility at strategic locations to be self-sufficient and less dependent on imports.

7) Government of India is trying to further lower the cost of Solar Power by having a dollar denominated PPA and thus avoiding the forex fluctuation risk and reduce the solar power costs, hedging costs etc…Please comment on the same.

Government approach to control the cost is laudable which will lead toΒ affordability. If petrol and diesel price can be controlled by Government, a similar mechanism can be worked out to control the solar power cost depending on international price of poly-silicon and wafers and offsetΒ the escalation cost to performance of plant over specified period. This will indirectly protect the EPC companies and deliver quality power by using Tier 1 and reputed companies modules and BOS for the power plant.

8) Please comment on the recent Tenders such as AP, Telangana, MP and NTPC.Β 

Tenders are bringing the power plant cost down, but State Electricity Boards are financially not sound and credit worthy to buy the generated power. Β NTPC has to carry the mantle for some time to buy the power from installers and distribute to SEBs. Of course one should be cautious as low price leads to poor quality and there should be number of quality check points throughout from production site to installation site.

9) Β the government is planning & talking big but the action is yet to be seen ? What are the expectations in the next 2-4 years?

I have been involved in solar industry since mid 80’s when only 4 companies were in solar production with total capacity less than 5 MW and at that time only India and USA were in the world map of solar industry. But today there are more than 110 module manufacturers and finger countable cell manufacturers in the country. Module manufacturing is low tech assembly type industry which can be set up anywhere but basic material which decides the efficiency and output of module is solar cell which again leads to silicon wafer and poly silicon. It is 30 years since India was involved in Solar , but not a single poly silicon or wafer production line exist in our country. We have to depend again for import of wafer or cells to complete 100 GW target. China has set an example to the world on planning for solar and Tier 1 companies are vertically integrated in GW scale production and Government support is in the form of cheap electricity, land and finance at low interest. The cell lines and wafer line in private sector will not be viable unless Chinese model is practiced. As time is short to complete the target of 100 GW by 2022 and to ensure wafer and cells are available continuously and less dependent on imports, Government itself has to venture to put up poly, wafer lines – which demand uninterrupted power for many hours. Why not NTPC, ONGC own and run the poly silicon and wafer plants to start with.

I can add here that ITI Bangalore which was once prime telephone manufacturing company today is deserted place. It has vast Industrial infrastructure with power, water and covered buildings. It comes under the Government and is public property. Why not NTPC or other Government agency use this unit to set up wafer and cell production line or give part of infrastructure to private or foreign companies on lease to start these lines. Wafer and cell lines can be set up from 8 to 12 months time. Bangalore ITI is also ideal location to house an R & D center for solar under the aegis of Solar Energy Research center as major institutions like IISc and solar industries viz., Tatapower, BEL, BHEL, Emmvee, HHV Solar are in Bangalore. Β Besides, the testing and certifying agencies UL and TUV, CPRI are in Bangalore. If this strategy is successful, other locations of ITI viz, Rae Bareli, Naini, Mankapur and Palghat can be utilized as they are ready with building, power, water and technical manpower.

10) Comment on the recent schemes such as 25 Solar Parks, Solar on Canals, RE-Invest, Increasing the Clean Energy Cess.

25 solar parks with capacity of 20 GW in all states and on canals is good strategy. Vast and vacant defence lands inside or on the outskirts of city are ideal locations for 1 MW to 5 MW power plants for captive use. Β Clean energy cess levied can be given back if rooftop solar is installed.

11) Any other topic on Government, Policy, Regulation, Finance, Technology, etc…

Present Government want to achieve all round development in short period compared to previous Government. International solar Alliance can moot an idea of exchanging the material and technology resources in the energy sector. For example Russia can be source of poly silicon and wafer (where power is abundant and uninterrupted), Europe and US companies be source of solar cells & Technology centers and Asian countries become source of modules. Thus each country work on barter system to supply material and get the modules back in turn without any duty on imports. This will lead to contain price and assure delivery of quality raw material and finished modules for the benefit of member countries involved.


Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network


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