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. 

Read the document here.

SECI favours lowest bid in recent solar auctions, cancels rest

The nodal agency for National Solar Mission, Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has canceled mostly all but the lowest bid project in its mega solar auctions held in July. The decision to cancel 2400 MW solar capacity out of 3000 MW came to light at a meeting of developers with government officials and SECI on August 1st, 2018. Out of all the tenders, only ACME solar won 600 MW for quoting INR 2.44/unit. The government felt all the other bids were too expensive and not competitive enough.

Among the canceled projects were 1100 MW by SB energy (a Joint Venture between Japan’s Softbank, Taiwan’s Foxconn & Bharti Airtel), 500 MW by Renew Power, both of which quoted INR 2.71/unit and lastly 300 MW each by Mahindra solar and Mahoba solar (Adani group) who quoted INR 2.64/unit. The developers felt that if they quoted below INR 2.71/unit, it would be not feasible for them to sustain.

Recently an auction in Uttar Pradesh was also canceled for 1,000 MW without stating any reasons.

Post the Safeguard duty implementations, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has also requested the Finance Ministry to exempt the ongoing solar power projects from the 25% safeguard duty imposed on imported solar equipment. The developers showed their concern over the increase in capital of the projects. While the duty seeks to protect the domestic solar manufacturing industry, project developers have mentioned that the duty would increase solar power tariffs.

Looking at the trend of the competitive tariff over the past years, tariff prices have dropped drastically, and the developers have gone weary of the ongoing trend and believe that they won’t be able to sustain the long-term agreement. However, the government is of the opinion that the tariff is too high and not competitive enough yet.

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