The commerce ministry has initiated an anti-dumping investigation against the import of solar cells from China, Taiwan and Malaysia. Solar cells are the basic ingredient used in the manufacturing of solar modules. The investigation was triggered by an application by the Indian Solar Manufacturers’ Association filed in May. Chinese solar modules are 8-10% cheaper than Indian counterparts. The notice issued by the directorate general of anti-dumping and allied duties said that prima facie evidence of dumping was found against the aforementioned product of the above countries, leading to injury to the domestic industry. Low module prices have played a major role in bringing solar tariffs down and industry experts believe that it is likely that domestic power firms would lobby against the imposition of any anti-dumping duty as the move would lead to rise in equipment cost. Solar capacity of 6,800 MW was added in FY17.
According to renewable energy research agency Bridge to India, the country imported $3,197 million worth of solar photovoltaic cells in FY17, an annual rise of over 36%. Out of this, 88% and 7% were imported from China and Malaysia, respectively. The share of Chinese imports has doubled in five years. About 88% of all module requirement in India is met through imports (84% from China). Solar module prices in India fell by about 29% over the last year to `20.5 per watt in Q1FY17. India’s total module manufacturing capacity is around 6,500 MW. The country’s installed solar power capacity is 13,115 MW. This is four times what it was 3 years back. To meet the aim of having 100 GW of solar power by 2022, the government has embarked on herculean task of adding 90 GW of solar installations in five years.
A World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling last year went against India for favouring local manufacturers in its solar power programme. In a bid to promote local manufacturing, the government had earlier mandated that a certain portion of capacity addition would be reserved for domestically sourced modules. WTO ruled that by imposing the domestic content requirement India had violated its national treatment obligation. Solar panels worth $42 billion worth is expected to be imported within 2022.