NEW DELHI: Panasonic Life Solutions, the Indian arm of Japanese consumer electronics and white goods giant, has chosen India as a base for expanding production of solar gears to serve the domestic and select export markets.
The decision to localise comes amid recent government policies to curb imports and increased supply chain issues with Chinese imports, company’s solar business head Amit Barve told TOI.
“In India we have done it more as a geographical policy to see that the local module manufacturing steps up to an extent that they can suffice to serve the local market rather than importing,” Barve said.
“More than 90% of (solar) raw material gets manufactured in China. But things started changing in the last 2-3 years, especially post-covid. Most of us face problems related to the supply chain. Majority of raw material sourcing from China also became a problem to serve the local market.”
He said government policies also influenced to “some extent” Panasonic’s decision to go vocal for local and added that efforts in other countries to find an alternate supply chain to China in terms of sourcing also presents Panasonic India export opportunities.
“Buyers in a couple of countries have started preferring Made in India modules,” Barve said, adding that the company has exported to the Middle East, Turkey, while some buyers from Thailand have shown interest.
To be sure, Panasonic will stick to the OEM (original equipment manufacturing) route with partner companies with gigawatt-scale capacities instead of investing capex on setting up manufacturing units itself. “Our focus is the distributed solar market, be it rooftop or home solar solutions segments for which we want to utilize existing manufacturing capacity so that they can be utilised 24X7, 365 day,” he said.
The company is launching solar inverters for homes to tap opportunities presented by rooftop and net metering policies and testing a homegrown prototype net metering as it aims to quadruple solar business turnover to Rs 1,000 crore in the next 3-4 years, Barve said.
Panasonic has been in the solar market for 45 years with manufacturing bases in Japan, Malaysia and the US. It began with ‘HID’ modules based on patented technology but was elbowed out by emerging technology and cost-effective supplies from China.
“We decided to adopt current technology and took the OEM route,” Barve said. In India, Panasonic began marketing its solar products from 2017 but began localizing from 2018-2019. It now has two partner companies in India — Hyderabad-based Premier Energy and Surat-based Navitas – and is talking to a Europen manufacturer. In China, the company has a manufacturing tieup with Suntech.