Industry reacts to the 25% duty as the Supreme Court allows to impose the safeguard duty on imports.

It has been a roller-coaster ride for the Indian Solar Industry and developers when it comes to the safeguard duty implementation. Recently the Supreme Court of India in the matter of the safeguard duty to be levied on imported solar cells has allowed the Central Government to levy 25% safeguard duty on imported solar cells and follow the previously announced order accordingly. This announcement nullifies the earlier stay from the Orissa High Court on the duty.

For the import-dependent solar power developers, the Supreme Court order which will be effective retrospectively from July 30th, 2018 might cost approximately an extra INR 500 crore ($ 72 Million) for some 1,000 MW of solar modules imported between July 30 & now. The financial burden will slow down the aggregate 16,000 MW projects in the pipeline. However, the announcement is being appreciated by the domestic manufacturers who believe that this step will help the industry which is currently facing competition with Chinese & Malaysian modules which are 8-10% cheaper.

However, not all domestic manufacturers stand to gain from the order. It will hurt the local manufacturers based in special economic zones (SEZs), which currently accommodate 40% of 10 GW of solar module manufacturing units and 60% of the 3 GW cell production base.

“The aggressive bid tariffs from July 30 up to now, are a clear indication that the industry has already factored in the 25% safeguard duty. The new projects will not be gravely impacted; the big worry lies with the aggregate 16 GW solar projects in the pipeline”, Mr. Pranav Mehta, Founder Chairman, National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI) and Chairman-elect Global Solar Council (GSC).

Post the order from the Supreme Court, safeguard duty on the above-mentioned goods for a period of two years.

25% safeguard duty 30th July 2018 to 29th July 2019 (both days inclusive)
20% safeguard duty 30th July 2019 to 29th January 2020 (both days inclusive)
15% safeguard duty 30th January 2020 to 29th July 2020 (both days inclusive)

The notification which came into effect post a complaint from Indian Solar Manufacturers Association (ISMA) in Dec. 2017 after self-investigation. The investigation concluded that locally manufactured cells and panels, which constituted only 10% of the Indian solar projects in 2014-2015 and had reduced more in the subsequent years. 

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