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Indian solar cell capacity at five-year low

According to reports, manufacturing capacity of Indian crystalline-silicon (c-Si) photovoltaic (PV) cell producers has fallen to a five-year low during 2013, despite almost $0.5 billion of investments between 2006 and 2012 intended to establish India as a low-cost PV manufacturing powerhouse.

* Between 2006 and 2012, $470 million was invested into new c-Si cell fabs within India.
* Most of the production equipment shipped to India during this time period has been idled, with limited expertise in running cell capacity having been gained during this investment phase.
* If currently-ramped cell capacity was run at maximum utilization rates, fab output would supply less than 10% of the domestic Indian solar market during the next 12 months.
* Module supply to the Indian end-market has been dominated by foreign suppliers, led by First Solar with 15% market share during the trailing 12 months (ttm) to end Q2’13.
* A small group of Chinese suppliers (Canadian Solar, Jinko, Renesola, Trina and Yingli) occupy the next five ranking positions for module supply, with a total of 46 percent market share.

The prospects for Indian c-Si manufacturers remain bleak, with many of the existing producers lacking cash to restart operations.

Although trade investigations by the Indian government against imported PV products are ongoing, the lack of high-volume and low-cost fab expertize forms the key barrier to local solar cell makers. As a result, continued growth of solar deployed within India has become dependent on low-cost foreign supply.

The author is vice president, NPD Solarbuzz, USA.

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