Outlook promising for photovoltaic manufacturing in India

SCHOTT Solar and Panchabuta debated the progress and potential of the photovoltaic supply chain in India during a recent PV Insider webinar.

On February 28th PV Insider hosted a webinar entitled Spotlight on Indian PV', in which three experts provided analysis on the current and future status of the photovoltaic market in India. The webinar attracted over one thousand registrants and hosted comprehensive industry polls.

The PV supply chain proved to be a major focus of the webinar. It was reported that initiatives in the India have not been limited to project development, and the rest of the PV ecosystem has started to see its own improvements. "The Indian manufacturing capability has grown significantly in solar modules, which aggregates close to 1.3GW of module manufacturing capacity per annum. This capacity is in excess of what the domestic market can consume," stated Amit Barve, General Manager (India and SEA) for SCHOTT Solar.

Attendees heard that when the National Solar Mission was announced in 2009, Indian manufacturers were heavily dependent on foreign markets (e.g. Europe), at around 70-80% of modules exported. Now, recent developments have boosted the domestic market, and "scale, system development and innovation are key for the future" explained Barve.

The effect of this progress is not limited to module production, and a prominent example now making headlines is the cell manufacturing industry. Barve noted that a number of Indian companies are now working to satisfy demand, with cell capacity at around 700MW.

But these advances are meaningless if the modules are not selected, so the webinar considered the most important factor for project developers when considering module selection. Vineeth Vijayaraghavan, Editor of Panchabuta concluded that module performance needs to be looked at in unison with technology performance to make a decision.

"In a sense, it's choices versus choices versus choices" said Vijayaraghavan. Technology and module performance must be weighed against cost, which should also be weighed against the company's track record. "Cost is an important parameter but that must be balanced against performance over the life cycle of the project – so in itself it is not as big a variable as it seems to be."

Barve agreed that these elements were all important, but the company's track record and bankability probably outweighed other factors. This is imperative when projects need to be guaranteed for 25 years.

The proceedings of the webinar can be viewed in full at no cost – go to www.pv-insider.com/development-india/content3.php

This webinar was organised by PV Insider as part of the PV Manufacturing Summit India 2012. For more information, please visit: www.pv-insider.com/manufacturing-india/index.php

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