Intersolar India: Quality of modules and project execution ‘disregarded’ in many Indian projects

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email
SunEdison's record low bid of INR4.63/kWh was a huge topic at Intersolar India. Flickr: Sanyam Bagha

Many solar projects built in India have compromised on the quality of execution and the modules used, according to an executive panel at Intersolar India.

The executives also expressed concern that the extremely low bids quoted in the state solar auctions over the last six months may exacerbate this issue with efficiencies having to be prioritised over quality. While such plant performance issues may put off international investors, who will be much needed for the country’s 100GW of solar by 2022 target, they may also represent a major opportunity for EPCs retrofitting and improving the quality of plants after a few years of being online.

Gyanesh Chaudhary managing director and chief executive of India-based module manufacturer Vikram Solar, said: “There is a total disregard for quality of execution and sustainability of these large projects, which are eventually going onto the grid and possibly making the grid unstable. These are very significant issues which nobody is willing to talk about.”

Welspun Renewables, vice chairman Vineet Mittal, added: “People have compromised in evaluating the modules supplier.”

He said that while his company carries out flash tests at the module manufacturer’s locations before dispatching to India, other developers are failing to take such precautions. Meanwhile many developers, who have projects about to enter the market, have used weaker practices for transport infrastructure, cables and steel structure.

While Mittal said this was an opportunity for EPCs and retrofitting, it may also result in developers going bankrupt and selling projects for negligible sums.

He said developers are unlikely to continue making mistakes for long, forecasting that after a period of developers not receiving financing for their projects, the tariffs will rise again with a market correction to be seen in the next 12-18 months. However the correction will not be seen in the next six months as there are still “hungry” players looking to take a market share by bidding at these very low tariffs.

SunEdison’s recent award of 500MW of solar in Andhra Pradesh at a record low tariff of INR4.63/kWh was a major talking point at Intersolar India while the industry came to terms with a 20% drop in tariffs over the last six months.

Mittal added: “What we have not talked about so far in India is the execution risk is huge.”

The developers face challenges with relations with local society, land acquisition, right of way and getting transmission permits.

However, Vinay Rustagi, joint managing director of analyst firm Bridge to India, said there is nothing to suggest that INR4.63/kWh will not be bettered in the next three to six months as most solar auctions are seeing between 30-50 large bidders entering the auction and he suggested that the market’s self-correcting mechanism may take longer.

Mittal also said that players with no experience are winning these bids and they are failing to deliver projects at the expense of other developers. As a result he said such developers should be blacklisted for a couple of years.

He said: “I think government can make it difficult for a speculator to enter in this sector.”

Santosh Khatelsal, managing director of Enerparc Energy, said the competitive bidding would only increase the efficiency of design and engineering up to a point but “unscrupulous” bidders could come close to having “substandard product use”.

Chaudhary said quality and sustainability is “clearly missing” from the Indian sector. Referring to bidders having to deliver projects at such low tariffs, he added: “There are certain compromises at each level potentially”.

He said this was harming India’s solar programme. He also said that India’s solar programme needs to be self-sufficient and therefore, far more effort needs to be put into supporting the domestic manufacturing sector. He claimed that if the cost of capital was removed in India, it would have the most competitive manufacturing in the world. However the current tariff-based bidding is not geared towards the domestic programme and Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, as the winning PV developers are not using services from India.

11 May 2021
Join this Talesun Solar webinar focused on providing an insight into the company’s next-generation series of large-area, high-efficiency PERC (Passivated Emitter Rear Cell) modules. These are available in both monofacial (‘BiStar’) and bifacial (‘BiPro’) formats, using 182mm half-cut cells in 144 and 156 cell configurations and provide up to 590Wp performance with efficiencies of up to 21.2%.
11 May 2021
Green Hydrogen: always the future never the now? Join us on 11-12 & 18-19 May for a fresh look at what’s fast becoming a reality. Governments across the world have put hydrogen at the centre of their decarbonisation plans with billions of dollars allocated to stimulating the market and whilst individual strategies will differ, the theme is the same: green hydrogen is the fuel of the future. Its role goes beyond energy use and there is already an active off-take market. From the perspective of renewable generators, hydrogen can play a pivotal role in enabling unsubsidised projects to work in a low power price environment and provide another business model in areas where the grid is congested. Hydrogen could also be the driver of a new wave of renewable installations as countries’ hydrogen plans hinge on new capacity being available.
26 May 2021
Tara Doyle and Tristan Erion-Lorico of PV Evolution Labs (PVEL), will share this year’s top-performing modules and discuss key findings from PVEL’s PQP testing. Join us to explore which find out which new Top Performer category can affect project value by more than $100,000 – and which test resulted in >20% degradation.
15 June 2021
Looking at the drivers and dynamics of utility scale solar in the UK over the next five years. This event will consider the immediate challenges as we enter the build phase in the UK market where we could see as much as 3GW deployed in 2021 alone! What developments will continue the growth of 100MW+ sites and what impact will government policy have on the rate of deployment in the UK? Join leading developers and manufacturers shaping the direction of one of Europe’s most active markets and hear from speakers with a history of influencing innovation and change.
6 July 2021
Explore in depth the opportunities of the different countries via case studies, business and financial models that will foster growth in the region with particular focus on Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, Korea, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia & Vietnam.
13 July 2021
Energy Next is a new industry exhibition focusing on the latest renewable energy and energy efficiency technology, which will be held for the first time in 2021 in Sydney, Australia alongside the Clean Energy Council’s Australian Clean Energy Summit, the peak gathering of leaders driving Australia's energy transformation. Organised by the same people behind Australia’s largest clean energy event, All-Energy Australia, Energy Next will give visitors two days of access to key suppliers in the industry, free-to-attend professional development and industry workshops, and networking opportunities to better understand clean energy issues and solutions and learn about the latest developments in this transformational, dynamic sector.

Read Next

May 5, 2021
Europe’s solar industry has lauded the inclusion of a commitment to "re-ignite" Europe's solar manufacturing sector within the European Commission’s refreshed industrial strategy.
May 5, 2021
A round-up of news from the US solar sector, including updates from the Department of Energy, private equity firm American Securities, and Indiana developer Hoosier.
May 5, 2021
New solar and wind assets in the US are now cheaper to operate than nearly 80% of existing coal-fired generators in the country and could replace the asset class while delivering numerous benefits to consumers, a report has found.
May 5, 2021
Governments worldwide must ensure that there are sufficient raw materials available to solar and energy storage developers to safeguard the energy transition.
May 5, 2021
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has selected three commercial-scale green hydrogen projects that will share in AU$103 million (US$79.7 million) of funding to support their development.
May 5, 2021
SHV Energy, a Netherlands-based liquified petroleum gas (LPG) distributor, has acquired a majority stake in Indian solar developer SunSource Energy.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
May 11, 2021
Upcoming Webinars
May 26, 2021
Session 1 - 7:00 AM (BST) | Session 2 - 5:00 PM (BST)
Solar Media Events
June 15, 2021
Solar Media Events
July 6, 2021