First Solar eyes Pakistan

Hot on the heels of announcing its first solar project in India, U.S. giant First Solar has told pv magazine it is keen to enter the solar market in neighbouring Pakistan.

The thin-film manufacturer and developer revealed on Thursday, it will develop a 45 MW scheme across two sites in the new state of Telangana, which split from Andhra Pradesh two months ago.

With the Indian government keen to re-energise the push for solar by driving forward 500 MW-plus ‘ultra-mega‘ solar projects, the nation is set to continue to be an attractive market and Nasim Khan, First Solar’s vice president for Africa and Pakistan, said the company is also keen to enter the fledgling Pakistan market, despite the fact India’s neighbour has no utility scale projects up and running yet.

"By some estimates, the country needs an additional 4.6 GW of generation capacity to address its immediate requirements," Khan told pv magazine. "It is clear that the country’s policymakers have already recognized the role that renewables in general – and solar in particular – can play in addressing this demand-supply gap.

"The government’s stated goal, of generating five per cent of the country’s energy from renewables by 2030, reflects the belief that sustainable energy sources can help ramp-up the country’s electricity generation to power growth and prosperity."

Khan added, although First Solar has no projects in Pakistan as yet, it sees ‘a tremendous amount of potential in the market’ and will ‘aggressively pursue’ opportunities in the country.

Analyst Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital, told pv magazine First Solar’s entry into the Indian market could help the company avoid the imposition of anti dumping (AD) duties of $0.11/W on its U.S.-made cells and modules, a move recommended by India’s ministry of commerce.

The government has until August 22 to decide whether to introduce the recommended AD duties on imports from China, Taiwan, the U.S. and Malaysia.

For an in-depth look into the opportunities – and significant hurdles – facing solar developers in Pakistan, see the September issue of pv magazine.