Intersolar India: On the road to the solar mission

Compared with its sister events in Munich and San Francisco, the Intersolar India, which took place for the first time in Mumbai, is rather quiet. 143 exhibitors presented their products in a hall at the exhibition center in the Indian metropolis. Some 6,000 trade visitors’ interests were peaked by the offerings. Not only were the stands belonging to Centrotherm, Gehrlicher, Coveme, Schueco, Phocos, M+W and SMA swarming with activity to the end, but they also kept the energy till the final bells rang. Several other companies like Eltek and the joint venture Minitec Krisam introduced new products and services.

However, it appears that the Indian solar market is still stuck in the beginning buzz and it is a challenge to hit the expansion target of 20 gigawatts of installed PV capacity on a sustainable basis by 2020, as formulated by the solar mission. In the current year, only 14 megawatts have been installed. To reach this goal, the branch is putting pressure on prices and costs and above all, the tenders round for major projects. At the bidding, the feed-in tariff slipped from the regular 17,19 Indian Rupees per kilowatt-hour (approximately 30 euro cents) to INR 10,97 (approximately 20 euro cents).

A number of experienced project planners like Gehrlicher India or the Indian partner of Beck Energy are no longer bidding along. “Such dumping prices destroy the market from the start, are a contradiction for the quality standards of PV-systems and lead to the exit of serious companies,” says Aparna Doshi, CTO of Astonfield Renewables.

Markus Elsaesser, CEO of the Intersolar organizer Solar Promotion, also sees the tendency in the still-young Indian market to place the emphasis on the price and costs as opposed to the quality of the components and the execution. More important than that is the know-how exchange with India, to facilitate the communications between market players and the politics in a way that photovoltaics in the intermediate term can only be considered when the quality is right.