The sorry state of PV manufacturing in India

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

A battle continues to rage in India over whether imposing anti-dumping duties on PV modules manufactured in China, US, Malaysia and Taiwan would support PV manufacturers in the country. At the same time, questions are growing over whether local content rules designed to support the local industry, but now being disputed by the likes of the US, have actually done any good.

A recent survey carried out by India’s Ministry of Commerce & Industry points to the current sorry state of PV manufacturing in India when comparing nameplate capacity to actual capacity in operation.

A top down analysis of the survey highlights that nameplate capacity of solar cells is around 1,383MW and PV module nameplate capacity stands at around 2,756MW.

In existence, according to the survey are approximately 15 companies with cell manufacturing equipment and 48 with module equipment. Those from the survey that had both types of equipment totalled 12. In total 53 PV manufacturers were said to have existed in India.

Six of the 15 companies with cell equipment had completely idled production, while 14 companies with module equipment had idled production.

Companies that had no current production of either cells or modules totalled 15.

The most disturbing figures from the survey relate to the larger and better known PV manufacturers in India, such as Moser Baer, IndoSolar, Tata Solar, Vikram Solar, Warree Energy and XL Energy.

XL Energy, with cell nameplate capacity of 80MW and 210MW of nameplate module capacity is in production of neither product. The same is true of Warree, which although it does not have cell equipment has a large, 250MW of module equipment capacity that is currently idled.

In respect to Vikram Solar, the company declared no cell equipment but had a nameplate module capacity of 150MW and only 75MW “under operation,” according to the survey description. This suggests that module production utilisation rates are no more than 50%, at best.

Things are slightly better for industry veteran, Tata Solar which had 70MW of solar cell production in operation and nameplate capacity of 180MW, indicating a cell utilisation rate of around 38.8%.

However, in respect to module capacity “under operation,” the company had 200MW, basically 100% utilisation.

The two scariest of situations from the major players rests with Moser Baer and IndoSolar.

Moser Baer has solar cell nameplate capacity of 200MW but the production lines are idled and only 80MW of module production is in operation out of 230MW, resulting in a maximum utilisation rate of 34.7%.

Solar cell producer, IndoSolar has 450MW of modern, automated nameplate capacity, care of Schmid. Yet the capacity in operation is only 80MW, resulting in its utilisation rate being only 17.7%. Indeed, according to financial statements from IndoSolar for 2013, all production lines had been idled.

Smaller (sub-100MW) module manufacturer’s, would seem to be relatively better off than the larger players. Companies such as Gautum Solar, Modern Solar, Shan Solar, Sova Power, Topsun Energy and Photon Energy Systems are all running at relatively high utilisation rates (above 80%) with several at full capacity.

An obvious observation would be that when comparing module production (1,300MW approx) with India’s domestic PV end market demand of a similar figure, significant overcapacity exists and therefore the sector is in need of consolidation.

The fact that only around 300MW of cell production is taking place suggests significant outside purchasing of cells is being undertaken and unless domestic cell producers upgrade and expand capacity with a new round of capital investments that sector is virtually doomed.

Of course many Indian PV manufacturers have made strides in recent years to expand business opportunities outside the country but the utilisation rates indicate that success is far from guaranteed.

Policies outside protectionism, such as R&D incentives, lower cost of finance could potentially provide better support for a sector clearly on its knees. 

A top down analysis of the survey highlights that nameplate capacity of solar cells is around 1,383MW and PV module nameplate capacity stands at around 2,756MW.
1 December 2021
Join this virtual conference on 1-2 December 2021 for expert presentations covering PV Module Technology, Supply & Site Optimisation for Utility-Scale. Delegates can access streamed presentations, session recordings and chat/messaging tools to connect with fellow delegates and speakers. Speakers include leading developers, manufacturers, testing and research institutes, including: NREL, Silicon Ranch, Sonnedix, Heliene, Powertis, LONGi Solar, JinkoSolar, PVEL, Risen Energy, Seraphim, STS, Trina Solar, Eternalsun Spire, QEERI, Fraunhofer, Estuary Capital Partners, VDE, First Solar, Longroad Energy, Powertis and DNV Energy Systems
2 December 2021
Intersolar is the world’s leading exhibition & conference series for the solar industry. As part of this event series, Intersolar India in Mumbai is India’s most pioneering exhibition and conference for India’s solar industry. It takes place annually and has a focus on the areas of photovoltaics, PV production and solar thermal technologies. Since 2019, Intersolar India is held under the umbrella of The smarter E India – India’s innovation hub for the new energy world.
9 December 2021
The Smart Energy Council is hosting Australia’s second Virtual Smart Energy Conference and Exhibition on Thursday, 9 December 2021. This event will show that the industry powers on despite COVID-19 and we are standing together undeterred in spirit. Bringing our global community together using the latest technology.
13 January 2022
Intersolar North America and Energy Storage North America “Come Together” for the first time in Long Beach, CA—connecting installers, developers, utilities, technology providers, policy makers, and key stakeholders from around the world to advance the clean energy future. With best-in-class conference programming, integrated exhibits and pavilions, and the live Solar Games installer competition, #isnaesna21 will showcase the industry trends, innovative solutions, and emerging talent transforming the solar, energy storage, and e-mobility markets. Register today to redeem our exclusive offer for PV Tech readers—free expo hall or 20% off full conference pass.
1 February 2022
As Solar Finance & Investment enters its ninth year, we sit on the cusp of a new power market with solar at its heart. The 2022 edition of the event will build on our years of expertise and relationships to bring investors and lenders together with top developers. Connect with leaders in the field and use exclusive insights to drive investment and development decisions for the future. Meet new and existing project partners at the largest gathering of European solar investors and lenders.
23 February 2022
Held annually since 2016, the Energy Storage Summit Europe is the place to be for senior stakeholders in the European storage industry. Designed to accelerate deployment of storage, we examine evolving chemistries, business models, project design, revenue stacks and use cases for storage. The 2022 edition will include exclusive content around longer duration solutions, energy strategies for wide-scale deployment of EVs and "EnTech", the event which sits at the intersection of digitisation, decentralisation and decarbonation of the power system. Come to meet TSOs, DSOs, Utilities, Developers, Investors and Lenders and leave with new contacts, partners and a wealth of information.

Read Next

November 30, 2021
Solar EPC company iSun is investing in US commercial PV project developer Encore Renewable Energy as part of efforts to accelerate its geographic expansion.
November 30, 2021
The CEO of Hevel Group, Igor Shakhray, will leave the company to become CEO of Unigreen Energy, a silicon wafer and cell manufacturer, which is owned by Hevel majority shareholder Ream Management LLC
November 30, 2021
South Korean LG Electronics has announced a series of new appointments as it aims to target greater growth and customer satisfaction moving into 2022, while also elevating certain critical departments to division level in order to supply them with greater resources
November 30, 2021
Solar risk manager kWh Analytics has launched a new offering that it says allows PV project owners to receive upfront payments in return for maintaining asset performance.
November 30, 2021
‘Solar Module Super League’ (SMSL) member Canadian Solar has raised US$150 million through a share offering, with proceeds set to help the manufacturer expand its energy storage arm.
November 29, 2021
Commercial and industrial (C&I) solar developer Altus Power will offer distributed renewables and energy storage solutions through a new partnership with energy major Shell.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
December 1, 2021
Solar Media Events
February 1, 2022
London, UK
Solar Media Events
February 23, 2022
London, UK
Solar Media Events
March 23, 2022
Austin, Texas, USA
Solar Media Events
March 29, 2022
Lisbon, Portugal