Thumbs down for India solar budget

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Solar analysts Bridge to India have given a downbeat analysis of the help given to the Indian PV industry in last week’s national budget, claiming it missed key opportunities.

The group said the budget was a “disappointment” that offered little to India’s solar sector, giving it a ‘score’ of three out of 10.

Bridge to India acknowledged the new prime minister, Narendra Modi, had only been in power for two months, and that the expectation of big policy announcements might therefore be unrealistic.

But in the run-up to the election, Modi made a number of bold pledges on solar, and Bridget to India said the budget was a key opportunity for him to underline those promises with a “showcase” for the new government’s vision.

In particular, they said the budget failed to deliver on an expected upward revision of targets under India’s JNNSM national solar mission and “commensurate” budgetary allocation.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy received an allocation for INR39.14 billion for the 2014-15 financial year, which Bridge to India highlighted was almost the same as last year’s INR391.5 billion.

Bridge to India was also critical of measures outlined in the budget to support domestic solar manufacturing. These included various exemptions for solar module components and manufacturing equipment.

But Bridge to India said these concessions were “mere tokens” and would be insufficient to revive India’s manufacturing industry, which recent reports have said is in poor shape. Indeed, waivers on foregin solar imports went against the aim of supporting local manufacturing, the body said.

“The government needs to adopt a holistic, long-term approach to incentivise manufacturing of solar cells and modules. The budget has given no indication of such an approach,” the analyst firm said.

Concluding, Bridge to India said: “The new government has been in office for less than two months. Given this, one cannot expect too much. Also, one should not read too much into the budget speech and the budget itself, because it only has a directional quality. Nevertheless, we believe that the budget is a good platform to showcase the government’s vision.  In that, we are disappointed. Our score for the budget is 3/10.”

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