Sun smiles on the first Intersolar India 2009

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This blog was written by Jaideep Malaviya, an expert in solar energy based in India exclusively for PV-Tech.org.

The saying goes “make hay when the sun shines”, and India’s solar PV industry was certainly doing so at the Solarcon India 2009 show held in association with Intersolar India at Hyderabad from November 9th to 11th 2009. It was perhaps the first time that the entire PV industry was comprehensively brought together – including materials and equipment, cell and module manufacturing, balance of systems (BOS) space, total PV solution providers, the finance and banking community, policy makers, end users, and service providers – under one roof. Showcasing over 50 international speakers, 70 exhibitors and 300 delegates, the confidence shown by European and American exhibitors proved India is well on path to becoming a solar superpower.

K. Rosaiah, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh state announced a 10,000-acre Solar City at Kadiri in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh state in southern India, around 85km from the Benagluru International Airport. This project, comprising investments from Sunborne, Inc., USA; AES Solar, USA; Lanco Solar, India and Titan Energy, India will total 2,000MW with a total investment of INR 30 billion. The largest project of 1,000 MW will be set up jointly by Titan Energy and Enfinity, Belgium. The city of Hyderabad boasts the distinction of having set up India’s first so-called ‘Special Zone’ for the manufacture of semiconductor equipment.

‘FAB City’ stretches for some 1,200 acres close to the new International Airport. The “FAB City Excellence Award 2009”, instituted by FAB City Solar PV was awarded to Prof. Eicke R. Webber (left), Director of the Fraunhofer Institute of Solar Energy (ISE) in recognition of his outstanding services in the fields of solar energy and the semiconductor industry.

Intersolar India also saw the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Fraunhofer ISE and the University of Hyderabad Knowledge and Innovation Park for the development of a research & development centre and a quality-testing centre in Hyderabad.

Other industry announcements made during the three-day event included news of the US$5 billion solar PV manufacturing facility planned by Moser Baer Photovoltaic; KSK Energy Ventures reaching an output level of 150MW of dual junction a-Si thin-film modules; and the securing over 1GW of long-term gas supplies by BOC India (a member of The Linde Group).

However, the highlight of the exhibition was India’s first solar energy Special Economic Zone (SEZ), which will be developed by Inspira Infrastructure in Aurangabad in the Western India state of Maharashtra.

Presentations were made by such prominent speakers as Dr. Charlie Gay, Applied Materials; Prof. Peter Adelmann, Ulm University of Applied Sciences, Germany; Bettina Weiss, SEMI PV Group; Debashish Majumdar, IREDA; K. Subramanya, Tata BP Solar; G. Rajeswaran, Moser Baer Photovoltaic and Hari Surapeni, Solar Semiconductor. The centre of attention was the National Solar Mission’s target of reaching an output of 20GW of solar energy in India by 2020.

Dan Martin, Global Head of SEMI’s PV Group informed attendees that the organization’s focus area was on standards of environment, health and safety (EHS), proceeding to hold the first ever EHS workshop. Following on from this, Aaron Zude, Sr. Director of EHS for the SEMI PV Group, said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently exploring the concept of a Global High Technologies Industries Climate Protection Council.

David Wissoker, Vice President Sales for Spire Corp., provided a comparative analysis that revealed that there is very little room for new entrepreneurs in Europe to set up within the PV industry as existing manufacturers are capable of handling any future growth. The U.S. PV market is now showing signs of growth following the ‘25GW by 2020’ announcement the Obama administration. The Chinese PV industry is controlled by the government, which means that entrepreneurs do not have a free hand in decision-making. However, India is a unique location where entrepreneurs are met with a business-friendly atmosphere, and while the majority of these entrepreneurs lack firm business plans, they are increasing with every passing year and creating a competitive market. Companies such as Spire have been made aware of this opportunity and have set up offices in the country to avail of these benefits.
 
The scale of India’s energy needs, and the abundance of sunshine, should also mean that industries should be able to benefit from economies of scale unavailable to smaller countries. Riding on this year’s success, Solarcon India has announced the next instalment in Hyderabad from November 15th to 17th, 2010.

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