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First Solar Fights Indian Duty Recommendation in Court

According to reports, First Solar Inc., one of the world’s largest solar-panel manufacturers, has approached a court in India to try to reverse a government recommendation that its solar-cell imports be slapped with an antidumping duty.

Last month, India’s Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties recommended antidumping duties for solar cells imported from the U.S., China, Taiwan and Malaysia. Local manufacturers claim that the imports were being priced below cost and were hurting Indian solar-cell makers.

While India’s Finance Ministry has three months to study the case and make the final decision, it rarely rejects recommendations from the agency.

U.S.-based First Solar wants the recommendation to be reconsidered. It has taken its request to the Delhi High Court, which is scheduled to hear its case on Wednesday.

“The investigation for the duties was unfair. It did not take into account our evidence,” said Sujoy Ghosh, head of the Indian arm of the company.

First Solar is the only overseas solar-panel manufacturer that has approached the Indian court. Local solar-power producers also have opposed the antidumping duty recommendations, saying overseas equipment is technologically superior and easier to finance from banks.

The Indian Solar Manufacturers Association, which represents local companies, has welcomed the antidumping duty recommendation, saying it would help boost domestic manufacturing.

India’s imports of oil, gas and coal have ballooned in recent years, contributing to a chronic trade deficit that has shaken international confidence in its future. To reduce that import dependence and limit carbon emissions, India launched a program in 2010 to raise solar-generating capacity to 20,000 megawatts by 2022. That would bring solar to about 5% of its power mix from around 1% today.

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