Potential of job creation highlighted at Solarcon India 2011


The event attracted more than 5,600 visitors over the three days, while a record 117 exhibitors from eight countries displayed their wares, up from 81 exhibitors in 2010. However, while the numbers were up, many felt that the quality of visitors was poor, with many attending not having any connection to the solar industry.

Chief guest was Francisco J. Sanchez, U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade, who inaugurated the show, alongside James Brown, president of utility systems business group for First Solar, and Bharat Bhargava, director of PV for the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Govt. of India.

During his address, Sanchez underlined the potential for job creation, if the U.S. and India can work together. "The [U.S.] Department of Commerce has invested millions in clean energy … Some of the obstacles include repositioning for success, where companies indulge in unfair trade practices.

"When the market is open for competition, it creates thousands of jobs, and the market is growing quickly, helping many. It is all about chance and choice. We have a chance to build a great industry. We need to work together in partnership and share value. We will work together for the good of India and its consumers."

Palpable at the event was the European debt crisis, with many discussions about how the EU is going to weather the storm. One would wonder what an Indian event has to do with Europe’s economic condition. But Indian companies, which have added a lot of installed capacity in last two years, have done so by keeping the European demand as their prime target.

Grid parity

The theme of the three-day Solarcon, "Showcasing the Solar Eco-System: From Polysilicon to Power Plants", saw around 65 speakers gather together from the industry, academia and government. An exclusive U.S. Pavilion was also featured, with 14 leading U.S. companies participating.

Furthermore, a 35-member Clean Tech delegation, led by Francisco J. Sanchez was part of the show. Around 400 delegates from various companies attended the concurrent conferences. All sectors of the supply chain were represented, from manufacturers, scientists, and engineering, procurement and construction contractors.

One of the most interesting presentations, "The Road Ahead for Solar PV Growth – Revolution or Evolution?", was held by First Solar’s James Brown. He said that now is a good time to be in the solar module business, as there is tremendous potential globally and, in particular, in India.

He added that grid parity has already been reached, due to the fact installation costs have drastically decreased after reaching highs a few quarters ago, driven primarily by demand from European countries.

Bettina Weiss, Executive Director SEMI PV Group, concluded, "We are happy to see the event emerging as the definitive platform for the solar industry in India."

The fourth Solarcon India is scheduled to be held in Bangalore from September 3 to 5, 2012.