Shapoorji Pallonji Group, Adani Group and Panchavaktra Power keen on local production of polysilicon
At least three Indian companies are planning to manufacture polysilicon, which so far is not produced in this country: the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, the Adani Group and Panchavaktra Power, a subsidiary of the conglomerate Panchavaktra Holdings. Polysilicon, made from sand, is the basic building block of solar energy projects. While India has around 7565 MW of installed solar capacity and has set itself a target of 100,000 MW by 2022, its solar manufacturing capacity is modest. Most of the solar modules used by Indian developers are imported.
Solar manufacturing comprises four stages – production of polysilicon, slicing polysilicon into silicon wafers, making solar cells using the wafers and making solar modules using the cells. While India has some limited solar cell and module manufacturing capacity, polysilicon is not made in India at all. The reason is that achieving the scale required to be price competitive in polysilicon manufacture calls for huge investment. Polysilicon units also guzzle power. Their setting up will require foreign technical collaboration. “We want to produce around 6000 tonne of polysilicon annually which will require about $1 billion investment,” said Anand Kumar, CEO, Panchavaktra Power Ltd.
Shapoorji Pallonji is planning a 2000 MW solar manufacturing capacity across the value chain, according to sources close to the development. The company, however, remained non committal in its emailed reply to ET’s query. The Adani Group too is looking at incorporating the entire solar manufacturing process from polysilicon to modules and has set up a special purpose vehicle, Mundra Solar Pvt Ltd, to handle the project.
All three, however, will start by making cells and modules and integrate backwards into polysilicon manufacture when conditions are right. “We are talking to four state governments on how to go about polysilicon manufacture,” said Kumar. “The cost of power and cost of land are issues. A lot of land will be needed, around 200 acres. We will need subsidized power too at less than Rs 1.50 per unit to make it viable. Currently the cost is around Rs 4 per unit. Orissa, for example, provides capital capital subsidies to other industries, so why not solar manufacturing too? There needs to be price advantage as well as economy of scale for polysilicon.”
Jayant Parimal, CEO, Adani Green Energy, felt similarly. “To make polysilicon, we expect an offtake guarantee from the government,” he said. “It is a highly competitive market globally and needs government support to take off in India”The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Niti Aayog are known to be working together on a new solar manufacturing policy, which the industry anxiously awaits, hoping it will provide enough sops to galvanize growth. India’s current manufacturing capacity is 1212 MW of solar cells 5620 MW of solar modules. Apart from polysilicon, on which work will start only in the third of phase of its solar manufacturing programme, the Adani Group also plans 2000 MW of solar cell manufacturing capacity is 1212 MW of solar cells 5620 MW of solar modules. Apart from polysilicon, on which work will start only in the third of phase of its solar manufacturing programme, the Adani Group also plans 2000 MW of solar cell manufacturing capacity. Panchavaktra Power is looking at 1500 MW of solar making capacity across seven manufacturing units.
Others preparing to enter cell and module making in India include Trina Solar and Solargise India. “We are betting big on the policy the government is expected to come out with,” said Gaurav Mathur, Head of Sales, India, Trina Solar. “We are investing $200-300 million to set up cells and modules. We have located the land in Andhra and are assessing it.”