Till today, the majority of components used in a solar power system in India is imported. Imports from China has been the highest. The amount of solar systems installation in India is one of the highest and it ranks 4th in the volume of solar power generation in the world. It has achieved more than 50GW solar power installation till date. In the year 2015, the honourable prime minister of India, has set the solar energy target of 100GW, including 40 GW from rooftop solar by 2022. This amounts to be more than Rs 600,000 Crore worth of market. So, it being such a huge market, Government of India is right to think that when we have such a huge requirement of solar power system then it should have all the components being manufactured in India. If any multinational company is willing to do business in India then it should setup a manufacturing unit in India itself.
Despite of such a huge volume, India is unable to build its own manufacturing facilities to manufacture solar modules, inverter and other accessories. The primary reason for this remained high cost of manufacturing in India and easy availability of cheap solar cells, modules, inverters and other components from China. In the past China was accused of dumping by many countries in the world which led to shutting of solar manufacturing facilities all over the world, as they were unable to meet such low pricing as China was offering. The EU and USA even imposed dumping duties on Chinese solar products in the year 2013. This did not deter China from dumping its products. This unfair policy of dumping by China still continues. Which is indeed harming solar products manufacturing industries all over the world.
There was no concrete policy in all these years to build a robust industry so that India not only becomes self-reliant in the field of solar cells, modules and other components manufacturing, but become a world leader in this sector. Further lack of proper quality check of imported items has also remained an important issue. A large number of Chinese cells and modules are there in Indian market without any proper quality checks by any Indian authority. This has given a chance to the traders and importers to import sub-standard cells and modules at very low and unjustified prices thereby, creating an unjust price war in India. The domestic cell and module manufacturers were facing losses due to this. Though the domestic capacity of solar cell manufacturing is very less, is hit very hard by the cheap imports from China. The power generation from the unchecked sub-standard solar modules may not be guaranteed. It has a potential risk of the drop in the power generation after a period of few years of work. The safety risk is also not ruled out in this case.
The amount of import of solar cells, modules and other components in India is somewhere around 90%. A check on the quality cells, modules and other components is required and to do so, BIS certification is being made compulsory on all solar components like modules, inverters etc by the Government of India. In the month of September 2018, MNRE introduced compulsory BIS certification of solar cells and modules. Only those solar modules and manufacturers who have obtained BIS certification are eligible to be enlisted in the Approved List of Models and Manufacturers abbreviated as ALMM.
The ALMM does allow inclusion of foreign companies subject to the terms and conditions set by the MNRE. Almost every month the ALMM list is updated and very soon the products from foreign companies will also start reflecting in it. Even to get funds from banks and NBFC, ALMM will become compulsory.
Hence, anybody in India is thinking of importing cheap solar modules and other systems should be cautious as those modules which are not in the list will not be eligible for any business with the government like net-metering, government tenders etc. Only captive project will be able to use those modules. With the present war situation in Europe, many Chinese shipments of solar modules are coming back, which the Chinese companies may try to dump in India. Please do not fall to the gimmick of cheap deal as they are not included in the list of ALMM. Your inventory may be at risk to fall into the category of ‘dead stock’. So every end consumer willing to install a solar power system should insist and ask their EPC contractors to buy goods from ALMM only. The list of approved models and manufacturer is displayed on the MNRE website.
The list updated as on 04.03.2022 is https://mnre.gov.in/img/documents/uploads/file_f-1646375903794.pdf