Need for Boosting India's Self-reliance in Solar Industry
TerraGreen|November 2020
May 12, 2020, marks a new beginning in the country’s history for taking steps towards self-reliance. With the Prime Minister’s clarion call for Atmanirbhar Bharat, Malav Trivedi says India has been a major importer since many years in different fields, but the tag needs to be changed forever. It will give India an immense advantage if we make our own solar cells, modules and its equipments, which we largely import from China.
Malav Trivedi

India has made significant progress in creating capacity for solar energy generation in the last few years. The central government’s emphasis since 2014 has given a new boost to the solar power installation. The unit cost of solar power has fallen and solar energy has become increasingly competitive with conventional sources of energy.

Our Reliance on Imports

This rapid progress should have been made earlier, however. India is energy deficient, yet blessed with plenty of sunlight for most of the year. It should have taken a lead in solar panel manufacture to generate solar energyearlier. Despite the new policy focus on solar plant installation, India is still not a solar panel manufacturer. Just as India has had no overall industrial policy since economic reforms began, there is no real plan in place to ensure solar panel manufacture. The share of all manufacturing in GDP was 16 per cent in 1991; it remained the same in 2017. The solar power potential offers a manufacturing opportunity. India is regarded by the global solar industry as one of the most promising markets, but low-cost Chinese imports have undercut its ambitions to develop its own solar technology suppliers. Imports, mostly from China, accounted for 90 per cent of 2017 sales, up from 86 per cent in 2014. Substituting for imports requires human capabilities, technological capabilities, and capital in the form of finance. Most Indian companies are engaged in only module assembly or wafer manufacturing and module assembly. No Indian company is involved in silicon production, although a few are making strides towards it. According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India (2018), India has an annual solar cell manufacturing capacity of about 3 GW while the average annual demand is 20 GW. The shortfall is met by imports of solar panels.

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