Overseas players betting big on Indian solar demand

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By Richa Chakravarty

Overseas players are eyeing the wide gap that needs to be filled to realise the goal of achieving a generating capacity of 20 GW of solar power by 2022.

The recent announcement of Solar Semiconductor Pvt Ltd, a Hyderabad-based manufacturer of solar modules, stating it would acquire US-based Solar Infra Inc, indicates the new trend of international collaborations that is emerging within the solar industry.

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The Indian solar PV industry has always required international collaborations and India’s ambitious Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) scheme has opened the doors for these partnerships to be formed. Global players are now eyeing the local market to fill in the wide gap that needs to be closedfilled to achieve the capacity goal of 20 GW of grid connected solar power generation by 2022.

Many tie-ups are being worked out between Indian and overseas companies. India’s Vikram Solar has partnered Spanish company Proener to jointly take up engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts of large solar power projects. Gujarat-based Harsha Engineers has also recently entered into a pact with German firm Abakus to work as an integrator for solar PV applications.

Global renewable energy majors are not only increasing their presence in the market by participating in equipment supply tenders but also looking at converting India into a manufacturing hub. US-based First Solar, a global leader in the sector, is investing in the capacity expansion projects of equipment manufacturers in India. The company has already shipped equipment for a capacity of over 200 MW in India, and has contracts in hand to supply equipment for another 250 MWs of generating capacity. Similarly, Germany’s Schott plans to tap the Indian market by expanding its facility for solar glasses at Vadodara, Gujarat. Another German company, REFUsol, a leading supplier of inverters for solar power plants, is planning to set up its equipment manufacturing facility in Pune.

The benefits of collaboration

The collaborations that are taking place at a fast pace benefit both the partners. For the global players, India’s solar power development programme seems to be a key driver for growth in their business as the Indian industry offers enormous potential. On the other hand, Indian companies gain the advantage of acquiring global technologies and global platforms.

The solar power industry in India is still developing and one of the major hurdles it faces is capital investment. Thus, investments flowing in through global players backed by advanced technology will be an added advantage for both domestic players and the industry, as a whole.

The tie-up with Solar Infra will allow Solar Semiconductor to take advantage of the former’s technologies and market. “Both the companies have their own strengths, which will be of mutual benefit. Our objective behind this acquisition is to accelerate solar PV manufacturing within the country and provide better value to the industry,” informs Ravi Surapaneni, vice president, Solar Semiconductor.

“The cost of delivering solar energy is the biggest challenge faced by the manufacturers and, hence, the right technological choice is critical in order to ensure good financial returns, while maintaining quality and the long life of the plant. The Indian solar PV market looks good today, and to address this market, companies are coming together. The technology offered by Solar Infra complements Solar Semiconductor, which will further enable us to strengthen the domestic PV industry,” adds Ravi Surapaneni.

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