As many as 15 companies including public-sector Coal India, Adani Infrastructure, Larsen and Toubro, ReNew Solar, Tata Power Solar, Waaree Energies, Vikram Solar, Megha Engineering & Infrastructures and FS India Solar Ventures will likely get incentives offered under the production-linked incentive scheme for solar manufacturing, as scope of the scheme is set to widen.
At an inter-ministerial meeting held recently, the department from promotion of industrial trade (DPIIT) is learnt to have endorsed the recommendation of the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) to raise the allocation of the scheme to Rs 19,500 crore, from Rs 4,500 crore approved initially.
According to sources, the meeting — chaired by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant and attended by DPIIT secretary Anurag Jain and MNRE secretary Indu Shekhar Chaturvedi, was convened to decide on how as much as Rs 30,984 crore savings from auto and auto component PLI schemes could be utilised. The government had reduced the outlay for auto sector PLI scheme to Rs 26,058 crore from Rs 57,043 crore earmarked initially.
Both MNRE and the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) had sought additional funding for the PLI schemes under their respective ministries, over and above their initial outlays.
As per the minutes of the meeting, reviewed by FE, Kant mentioned that “considering the fact that these (solar) proposals are already in hand and can be implemented straightaway there is a convincing reason to allocate additional amount of Rs 19,500 crore to MNRE for the implementation of the PLI on high-efficiency solar module”. Import dependency of the sector, the context of Glasgow commitments, and the requirement of domestic solar manufacturing for meeting green hydrogen targets were also taken into consideration while making the recommendation for additional fund allocation.
Reliance New Energy Solar, Andhra Pradesh-based transformer manufacturer Shirdi Sai Electricals, BC Jindal Group’s Jindal India Solar Energy were selected as the beneficiaries of the PLI scheme for solar panel manufacturing based on the initial allocation of Rs 4,500 crore. These companies will cumulatively set up around 12,000 mega-watt (MW) of manufacturing capacities under the scheme. However, MNRE pointed out that it had received 18 eligible PLI bids in total, and the manufacturing commitment can go up to 54,809 MW if the PLI allocation goes up to Rs 24,000 crore to accommodate all bidders.
The new capacities are seen to provide a domestic supply source to an industry which is 80% dependent on imports. As per the recent COP26 announcements, the country has set a target to install 500 giga-watt (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2030 and much of it is to come from solar plants.
The current installed renewable energy capacity in the country in 103 GW, of which 48 GW are solar. Another 50 GW of renewable energy projects are under implementation and 32 GW are in various stages of bidding. To boost domestic manufacturing, the Centre had imposed a 25% safeguard duty on solar imports from China and Malaysia in July 2018 for two years, which was extended to July 2021, at a rate of 15%. From the beginning of FY23, solar module and cell imports will attract a basic customs duty of 40% and 25%, respectively.
The Cabinet had cleared the scheme on March 31. The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency, on May 25, had invited applications from solar module manufacturers for availing the PLI scheme, and the financial bids were opened on October 25. The beneficiaries of the solar PLI scheme have been selected through competitive bidding, and ranked on the basis of manufacturing capacity proposed to be set up by companies and the extent of elementary products required for manufacturing solar panels they promise to make in the country.