NEW DELHI: The anti-dumping case against solar cell imports has split the domestic clean-technology industry into two with solar power producers and domestic solar cell manufacturers at loggerheads.
Opposing any dumping duty on solar cell imports, solar power producers say such a move will push the cost of solar power even as domestic cell makers say investigation by the Directorate General of Anti-Dumping (DGAD) found enough prima facie evidence of dumped imports hurting the domestic industry.
The first hearing of the case, chaired by officials from the ministry of commerce, was held on Thursday. There were more than 100 participants, including three petitioners and around 12 respondents from the US, China, Malaysia and Taiwan. Rest of the participants were 'affected parties', which included solar power project developers, EPC contractors, glassmakers and electric cable manufacturers.
Power producers alleged that domestic manufacturers do not have enough scale to meet project developers' requirement yet.
"Indian solar industry is quite new and they invested in archaic technology. We need to wait for another 3-4 years for the domestic solar manufacturing industry to come of age and be technologically competitive," Welspun Energy CEO Vineet Mittal said. "That will be the game changer for the Indian solar industry," he added.
In the past three years, the cost of solar power has come down to an average Rs7 per unit from Rs17.50. Project developers, most of who came into the business just 3-4 years ago, attribute this decline in cost to cheap imports of solar cells.
"Solar power is helping in achieving the target of energy access as now it's cheaper than diesel and kerosene," Inderpreet Wadhwa, CEO at Azure Power, said. "Imported content had a lot of contribution in bringing down the cost of solar power in India." Another solar power project developer said the fact the only three out of more than 40 manufacturers of solar cells and modules in India filed the anti-dumping petition showed the lack of weight of this case.
Both the US and China have condemned the manner of investigation by the Directorate General of Anti-Dumping (DGAD).
One of the complainants, however, said there is enough evidence of dumping of solar cells in the country from the US, China, Taiwan and Malaysia.
"The case initiation notification by DGAD mentioned that there is enough prima facie evidence of injury being suffered by the domestic industry caused by dumped imports from the subject countries," the person said.
Domestic solar cell makers got the support of glass manufacturers. "We supply glass to around 90% of the domestic manufacturers of crystalline solar photovoltaic panels and are deeply concerned in this matter," Pradeep Kheruka, vice-chairman at Borosil Glass WorksBSE -0.95 %, said. "If the domestic industry struggles to survive, then even our business faces a challenge," he said.
The second phase of India's ambitious National Solar Mission is put on hold due to this tiff between the domestic manufacturers and importers of solar cells and modules.