Solar manufacturing gap between India, china growing, says report
BENGALURU : The gap between solar manufacturing in India and China has been increasing with leading Chinese manufacturers making aggressive investments in capacity expansion and new technology, according to a recent report by renewable energy consultancy firm, Bridge To India.
“Long-term viability of the Indian manufacturing sector depends on its capacity to compete with leading Chinese manufacturers on cost of production, scale and technology,” the report on solar manufacturing said. It also noted that it would be challenging for Indian manufacturers to bridge the cost disadvantage with the Chinese players. “Indian companies are banking mainly on tariff barriers and incentives in form of capital and/or operating cost subsidies,” it said. The biggest risks they face are those of policy uncertainty and lack of in-house technology.
Indeed, the Indian government attempted to address the policy uncertainty issue when it announced earlier this year that it would impose a basic customs duty on solar cells and modules as part of the bigger “Make In India” scheme. But the industry is growing impatient because the government has not provided any details such as a timeline since then, although the announcement was made in June.
“I see the reason to have an import duty. But I don’t know the reason behind keeping everyone in the dark. Maybe it’s just dysfunction and disagreement between different stakeholders and the ministry,” a solar developer said, requesting anonymity.
Aggressive bidding by developers worldwide has led to demand for lower production costs and more efficient modules, the report said. As a result, Chinese companies are testing several emerging technologies with significantly higher efficiencies compared to modules which are currently in production. “Cell and module efficiencies have already crossed 24% and 22% respectively and the leading players are reporting technologies in advanced stages with up to 26.7% cell efficiency. In contrast, efficiency of cells made in India is typically around 17-18%,” it said.
The report noted that although the government has tried to encourage domestic manufacturing in the past, the need is stronger now. “It remains to be seen if the government can provide necessary policy certainty to investors. Our realistic case estimate is addition of 5-6 GW of cell and module manufacturing capacity over the next three years,” it said.