According to reports, demanding an anti-dumping duty to the tune of 30 to 35% on import of solar cells, the Indian solar equipment manufacturing industry said that they have suffered a loss of Rs 1,000 crore due to below market priced import of photovoltaic cells.
“The thin-film and silicon photo voltaic cells and modules imported into India from the USA and other Asian countries are being sold at ridiculously low prices bleeding the local industry and violating international fair trade regulations,” said H R Gupta, managing director, Indosolar Ltd.
A group of around 25 manufacturers including Tata Power Solar, Moser Baer, Indosolar etc have appealed to the government that in wake of increasing import at ever decreasing prices, it should safeguard the interests of the domestic industry.
“At least 70% of the solar cell capacity is idle due to cheap imports flooding the Indian market,” said Gupta. The domestic manufacturers of solar cells filed a case of dumping against the US, China, Malaysia and Taiwan in November 2012 with the directorate general of anti dumping (DGAD). With the deadline ending in the second week of May, DGAD would take a final decision on the matter soon.
Solar industry executives said that in past one year, the price of solar cells have dropped by 40%, as the solar capacity addition witnessed a whooping growth of 700% in past 10 years, globally. Though the Indian export market went down drastically to $80 million in 2012-13 from $500 million a year before. More than 55% of the solar power projects in the country are built on imported content, as its either cheaper or have financial backing.
Government’s flagship solar power development program Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) mandated 30% of local equipment sourcing in its first phase of project bidding. In the second phase, equal amount of projects were allocated under the domestic and non-domestic content category.
ET reported on Tuesday that ministry of new and renewable energy wants the decision on dumping to be stayed for some period, as projects worth 4,000 mw, which were tendered out recently and built on imported content would get stuck. It fears that the cost of building solar power projects would go up by at least Rs 1.6 crore per unit even if a minimal duty were imposed.
“Domestic manufacturers would provide stability with regard to foreign exchange volatility as a significant percentage of the value addition is done in India. By depending on foreign imports, any significant depreciation of the rupee as seen in FY 2014 could seriously harm the interest of the national solar mission,” said Gupta.
Officials at the commerce ministry however are assessing the impact of a higher import duty and are rather in favour of foreign companies setting up manufacturing units in India.
“We would welcome the foreign companies to come and manufacture here. There is a 30% difference in the price of domestic and imported cells. If the foreign companies have a manufacturing hub here, then it would be a level playing field for all of us,” said Vivek Chaturvedi, chief marketing officer, Moser Baer Solar.
Last year, the US imposed 31% anti-dumping duty on Chinese solar imports, going as high as 250% for some companies. US manufacturers had alleged that Chinese products were eating its local market. Recently, even EU imposed provisional anti-dumping duty of average 47.6% on Chinese solar imports.