Author Alan Tu
Updated October 17, 2023

The 17th Renewable Energy India Expo took place at Greater Noida, New Delhi, from October 4 to 6, 2023. InfoLink delves into trending topics and offers cutting-edge market analysis.

Local manufacturing on the rise

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India started cultivating local production capacity earlier than the U.S. Many large-scale manufacturers are experienced in making cells and modules. For them, challenges lie in line modification from multi-Si and 156.75mm products to PERC/TOPCon and 182/210mm ones that are currently mainstream. Many manufacturers report difficulties in producing multi-busbar cells with current module production facilities and need to modify their tabber stringers. 

Statistics of InfoLink show India plans for its nominal module capacity to reach 49 GW by the end of 2023, but wafer and cell production expansions fail to catch up. Despite ambitious expansion plans, capacity growth will be slow since most manufacturers are less experienced and given visa application and equipment import issues. This year, several BOM manufacturers have expansion plans as well. Unlike other regions still using Chinese BOMs, local production will gain momentum in India.

To facilitate local production of high-efficiency modules, India approved the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) on April 7, 2021. With the incentive, the government has offered two tenders, allocating 8,737 MW of capacity in the first round and 39,600 MW in the second, adding up to 48,337 MW, of which construction will take 1.5-3 years. The PLI is a strong incentive for local manufacturing.

In addition, the Approved List of Models and Manufacturers mandates PV projects and projects selling electricity to the government to use the modules listed. However, local production capacity is insufficient. Therefore, the regulation is postponed to take effect in April 2024 and will ensure sales channels for India-made products.

Demand increases steadily

India aims to install 500 GW of renewable energy by 2030. To attain this goal, the country announced in May 2023 the latest National Energy Plan (NEP), aspiring to cumulate 337 GW of renewable energy during 2026 and 2027, with solar accounting for 186 GW. According to the plan, India will add 179 GW of installed PV capacity during 2027 and 2032, and by around 2031 and 2032, the total installed PV capacity in India will reach 365 GW.

According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), most PV projects in India are centralized ground-mounted installations. As of March, India's installed rooftop PV capacity was 8,877 MW, accounting for merely 13% of the total installed PV capacity. From January to August, India added 8.308 GW of installed PV capacity, a 16.5% YoY decrease. As of August, India's cumulative installed capacity reached 71.61 GW, which still lags far behind the 2026-2027 target. 

Much dependent on imports before, India imports much fewer modules from China after the imposition of BCD. Still, some Chinese modules end up in India despite the tariff. In the second half of this year, import volume will increase as end users may stock up in advance for the coming fiscal year amid module price declines. With local production capacity picking up, India gradually shifts to a business model where local developers import cells and outsource assembly to local module factories. Additionally, developers reinitiate construction for many pending projects as deadlines approach. As a result, demand increases. InfoLink expects demand in India to sustain at 14-18 GW in 2023. 

However, prices plunge across the global supply chain, intensifying market competition. Module imports are cheaper than India-made modules despite the 40% tariff. Sales prices reflect cost differences. Currently, average prices for modules imports from China fall rapidly, coming in at USD 0.23-0.25/W for India-made modules and USD 0.14-0.16/W for Chinese imports, affecting prices for India-made modules. 

In the long run, protective policies and incentives the Indian government has launched to support the development of the domestic PV market, such as Basic Customs Duty (BCD), PLI, and ALMM, will continue to facilitate the local PV industry.

Key exhibits

InfoLink picks some key products on display at the REI 2023: 

Mainly focusing on centralized ground-mounted generation projects, most modules on display this year were 72-cell ones. In India, local module makers still stuck to PERC modules, which comprised cells of Chinese origin. Local TOPCon cell production has yet to pick up significantly. Still, many manufacturers presented sample products amid the transition from p-type to n-type products across the supply chain.

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