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SEMI India Welcomes New Guidelines for National Solar Mission Grid-Connected Solar Power Projects

SEMI India welcomed the announcement of new Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) guidelines for the selection of grid-connected solar photovoltaic power projects. As an industry organization serving the needs and interests of the solar/PV industry and ecosystem, SEMI India stresses that these new guidelines are a positive step which will enhance the selection of 350 MW of solar PV projects under the JN-NSM. Solar has a transformational role to play in meeting India’s energy needs while also presenting a tremendous opportunity for growth in the manufacturing sector in India.

The new guidelines fall into the “Phase 1, Batch II” category and are applicable to solar PV projects that will be selected during 2011-2012. According to Debasish Paul Choudhury, president, SEMI India, “The newly announced guidelines will pave the way for the country’s leading Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to participate in and exploit the benefits of scale with the cap per developer going up to 50 MW. The increase in the size of projects was a key recommendation that SEMI highlighted based on a stakeholder survey exercise we conducted earlier this year. We are pleased to see this implemented. The extended timelines for project milestones in Batch-2 are also a welcome step. Along with these, it would be prudent to include a technical filter in the selection of projects for this and future phases.”

Indian manufacturing leaders believe that to provide a boost to manufacturing in the country, an aggressive domestic content requirement is needed, without keeping out the best, newest and proven technologies, in a limited way. “India has a great role to play in solar manufacturing— and manufacturing must increasingly become the backbone of the country’s growing economy and the engine of job creation. Established industry leaders have been committed to solar manufacturing in India for decades and are increasing their investment further. It would be most appropriate to extend the purview of the domestic content requirement to apply to projects addressing state solar RPOs”, said Mr. K. Subramanya, CEO, Tata BP Solar and chairperson of SEMI’s India PV Advisory Committee.

Mr. Choudhury stated, “We believe that, alongside the strengthening of crystalline PV manufacturing, where we have an established and proven manufacturing base for cells and modules, thin-film manufacturing needs to develop in India. It is an important step towards building up a complete solar manufacturing eco-system in the country and improving our global competitiveness. Also, while we are happy to see some leading businesses setting up integrated solar manufacturing facilities, including polysilicon and wafer manufacturing, other segments of the supply chain, such as materials, need to be established for the industry to be able to innovate and drive down costs”.

Challenges remain for solar manufacturers and developers in the country. Financing is expensive and hard to secure for solar projects and questions persist around the bankability of documentation that developers need to submit to secure financing. Government payment security schemes and loan guarantee schemes are starting to address the situation, but more remains to be done. “If interest rates may be brought down, through priority lending to the solar sector, the Indian solar industry will see huge growth avenues,” added Mr. Subramanya.

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