India’s PLI solar manufacturing scheme receives 55GW of bids

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First Solar is said to be one of only two international applicants for the PLI programme. Image: First Solar.

A new support scheme from India’s government to boost the domestic manufacture of PV modules has seen 18 bidders submit 54.8GW of applications, according to consultancy JMK Research & Analytics.

The “overwhelming response” to the production-linked incentive (PLI) programme, which aims to support the addition of 10GW of integrated solar PV manufacturing plants, has seen companies such as ReNew Power, Larsen & Toubro, Tata Power Solar and Waaree Energies place bids. In total, 19GW of bids were submitted for polysilicon manufacture, 32GW for wafer and 54.8GW for cells and modules.

JMK said the bidders have been assigned marks based on selection criteria from the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), with Reliance New Energy, Adani Infrastructure, Jindal India Solar and Shirdi Sai Electricals scoring maximum marks.

Given Reliance’s US$10.1 billion clean energy plan and a recent announcement from Adani to invest US$20 billion in renewables over the next ten years, JMK said “it is highly likely” these two companies will be the main PLI beneficiaries.

PLI recipiencts will be required to set up a plant with a minimum capacity of 1GW, while the maximum capacity that can be awarded to one company is 50% of their bid capacity or 2GW, whichever is less, according to guidelines from India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) published in April.

Approved last year, the PLI scheme will see INR45 billion (US$603 million) allocated over five years to back the domestic development of high-efficiency PV modules as part of government efforts to reduce the reliance on imported PV equipment. As of May 2021, India’s domestic manufacturing sector has annual capacities of around 2.5GW for cells and 9GW – 10GW for modules.

JMK said that although the PLI selection will lead to only three of four beneficiaries, it expects that the remaining applicants will still go ahead with their plans to set up manufacturing plants in India.

Of the 18 bidders, nine have no prior solar manufacturing experience, JMK said, with First Solar and CubicPV the only two international applicants.

First Solar revealed plans in July to construct a 3.3GWdc module assembly plant in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The US company’s CEO, Mark Widmar, last week met India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss its interest in setting up manufacturing plants through the PLI scheme.

Other manufacturers that have recently expanded their presence in India include Vikram Solar, which opened a 1.3GW module plant in July, while Asahi India Glass and Vikasha Group announced a joint venture to set up a solar glass manufacturing facility in Gujarat.

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