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Domestic solar cell makers set to vie with all countries save China

According to reports, solar power project developers’ threat to import solar cells from countries such Japan, Korea, Singapore and others is music to the ears of Indian solar cell manufacturers.

The manufacturers are of the view that it’s better to compete with these countries than “non-market” economies like China. “We have been saying the same thing over the past two years that anti-dumping duty would not have any adverse effect over the solar programme of the country,” said a senior executive of a Delhi-based leading solar cell manufacturer.

He said with the developers choosing countries such as the European Union, Korea, Japan and Canada, it would be a competitive market. “We at least won’t have to compete with non-market economies such as China,” said the executive.

Power project developers had earlier said if a dumping duty is imposed on cheaper imports, the solar power cost would go up and the government’s aim to bring down solar power price would fail. Last month, India slapped dumping duty on solar gear imported in the country from the US, China, Malaysia and Taiwan, in order to safeguard the domestic manufacturing of the same.

The Directorate-General of Anti-Dumping (DGAD), in its final findings, recommended anti-dumping duties of up to $0.48 per watt on solar cells coming from the US and 0.81 per watt on Chinese. The ministry of new and renewable energy and project developers are apprehensive that this would double up the cost of solar power generation. The developers, however, wrote to the government that they would still depend on imports, though from another set of countries. The domestic manufacturers are of the view that the cost of solar power would remain at Rs 7.5 per unit by 2020 if indigenous solar cells are used. The current cost of solar power in the country is the Rs 6.5-8 per unit.

The industry is also hopeful of scaling their current capacity by 300 Mw from current 1,260 Mw, by the year-end. “Dumping duty leads to 20 per cent increase in the cost of solar cells, this in turn translates into a 10 per cent increase in the cost of power project. This also over the period of the project will fall to eight per cent. It’s better than the country wasting Rs 11,000 crore of foreign exchange in importing solar cells,” said Ajay Goel, chief executive officer, Tata Power Solar.

According to the data shared by the solar power producers, the cost of the Chinese solar cells is around 58-61 cents per watt, which is set to go up to $1.20 per watt, once the dumping duty is imposed. Indigenously manufactured cells cost 44-48 cents per watt. Power producers said the cost of cells coming from the US, Singapore, Canada, Japan and European Union would cost between 75-90 cents.

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