INTERVIEW | Indian solar industry lacks clarity on ground; fast changing policies hamper sentiment

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Published: October 29, 2019 2:35:28 PM

The lack of solar-friendly policies and their inconsistency have put a negative impact on the solar industry sentiment

solar, solar power, solar energy, solar module, safeguard duty, rooftop solar, cheap solar tariff in India, renewable energy, 100 GW by 2022Industry body wants friendly solar policies and their consistency for a few years at least. (Bloomberg image)

Even as the imposition of safeguard duty on solar modules has helped Indian solar manufacturers to level grounds with their foreign counterparts, it has also kept Indian customers deprived of good quality modules from other countries. The lack of solar-friendly policies and their inconsistency have also put a negative impact on the solar industry sentiment, Sushil Sarawgi, Managing Director, KOR Energy, told Samrat Sharma of Financial Express Online in an interview. Though the Narendra Modi-led government is too sure to reach 100 GW solar capacity by 2022, lack of clarity on the ground has kept the solar industry with a look of perplexity. Here are the excerpts from the interview:

Do you think India can reach 100 GW solar capacity by 2022?

As of now, reaching 100GW by 2020 seems a little over-optimistic to me but nothing is impossible. If current bottlenecks are removed and a workable plan involving all stakeholders is implemented, we can reach very near to target.

Also Read: Install solar power panels on rooftops for home appliances, not in large farms or power plants

What are the roadblocks on the ground and what are your recommendations?

At the ground level, there is a lack of clarity and the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholder agencies are not clearly defined. At many places, there are conflicts of interest between them. A top to bottom approach for the achievement of targets and understanding what is needed is completely lacking.

Industry body wants friendly solar policies and their consistency for a few years at least. Abruptly changing or discontinuing policies like net metering or imposing surcharges have a negative impact on Industry sentiments. All state and central agencies responsible for the implementation of renewable energy programs, along with the state distribution companies should come under one common consensus and finalise targets between them.

How much has the safeguard duty helped?

Safeguard duty has definitely helped in increasing sales of Indian module manufacturers. Though the Chinese manufacturers have decreased their prices, they are still costlier after the safeguard duty. But, this has also resulted in Indian customers being deprived of good quality products from Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, European countries and even China.

Is cheaper solar tariff too competitive in India?

Yes, the solar tariff in India is very less and the competition is driving developers to look for cost-cutting which may not be good for solar plants in the long run. The profitability of developers has taken a hit and this coupled with the delayed payments from distcoms is putting developers in financial stress.

What are the limitations of solar power plants?

Installation of the solar power plant has its own problems associated, especially till the cost-effective storage technology is not made commercially viable. The solar plants produce electricity during day time only and even for that, it requires large parcels of land. Hence, independently it is not sufficient to cater to the entire power requirement.

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