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Ajay Prakash Shrivastava, President, Solar Energy Society of India, highlights the importance of domestic manufacturing and comments on hybrid solar, DCR rules and much more.
Domestic manufacturing has not picked up. What are the reasons for this?
Promoting domestic manufacturing is of utmost importance, and the government hasn´t done enough for the same in the solar energy sector. However, the main reason for slow pick up in domestic manufacturing is the continued large scale import of solar modules. Unless imports are restricted, domestic manufacturing will not speed up. Further, as there is no technical testing or check up of the imported modules, there is flood of low quality solar modules from neighbouring countries. The government has declared the installation target of 100 GW solar by 2022. While this highly ambitious target is praiseworthy, our opinion is that the government should have first fixed domestic manufacturing targets instead of installation targets, as the current scenario has given the advantage to importers, resulting in outflow of valuable foreign exchange. Manufacturing targets would have benefited the country through increase in GDP and employment at large scale.
Will manufacturing be able to align with new solar announcements?
Maybe only a few companies are taking advantage of the situation and not completely manufacturing their modules and panels in India, but importing and assembling only assembling them here. But, this is not a healthy trend. However, reputed manufacturers are still concentrating on 100 per cent manufacturing in India. We think that it will take time for the domestic manufacturing sector to pick up and unless the government takes effective steps to curb imports, the slow pace will continue. Domestic manufacturing should be strengthened, not only for solar modules, but also for solar cells and solar wafers as manufacturers may otherwise not have sufficient capacity to produce modules for 100 GW by 2022. But, we have the ability to achieve this target if the domestic manufacturing industry is given proper government support.
Hybrid solar is expensive, but can be a solution to irregular power. What is your take on this?
Widely, it is wind and solar energy that fall under the green energy umbrella in India. Of course, while there is irregularity and unreliability in the former, there is no such issue with solar energy. India has abundant solar energy having 5-5.5.kw/hr of solar radiation. Except for a few cloudy days in the rainy and winter seasons, there is bright sunshine which is good for tapping the energy. We think that more and more research is required in this area. Presently, solar energy is not a costly affair if all the direct and indirect expenses are included in coal-based electricity generation. It is also possibly a good idea to combine solar energy plants with other convention power plants, in order to meet the goal of 24x7 power for all.
Would involvement of large corporates have an impact on solar manufacture?
Large corporates should step into the domestic manufacturing sector as this will help increasing the GDP as well as generate employment opportunities.
How optimistic are you about future prospects of solar manufacturing?
The future of solar energy is as bright as sunshine. We are very optimistic about the growth of solar manufacturing and installation in the days to come. Fossil fuels are depleting and as such, natural sources of energy are the only option left for mankind. Solar energy should be taken up to a great extent and the sooner we do so, the better it will be for our coming generations.
Should India alter its stance on Anti Dumping Duty for increased domestic manufacture?
In May 2014, the Centre had almost declared imposition of Anti Dumping Duty. However, the new government deferred the decision--maybe out of sheer over enthusiasm--as they were in hurry to declare and achieve the solar installation targets. We have now learnt that Indian Solar Manufacturers Association (ISMA) have filed a petition with the concerned department for imposing ADD and safeguard duty, which is a praiseworthy step.
What effect has the WTO ruling regrading India´s DCR rules had?
We think that the government should have handled the WTO issue more effectively. Every country has the right to safeguard the interest of its domestic manufacturing sector, be it solar or any other commodity, otherwise the GDP of that country will never rise.