Indian prime minister Narendra Modi will find a way to support Indian domestic solar manufacturing without implementing the anti dumping (AD) duties called for by his ministry of commerce.
That was the prediction voiced by Gyanesh Chaudhary, the CEO of Kolkata-based module manufacturer, EPC services provider and solar developer Vikram Solar, who added: "That is my gut feeling on this anyway."
Without naming names, Chaudhary told pv magazine he has heard ambitious talk about aims for 100 GW of solar in India and fears such plans could fall by the wayside if the government accepts the recommendation to apply duties to cells and modules imported from China, Taiwan, the U.S. and Malaysia.
"If the duties are applied, I think developers would have to find a new level in terms of the capital costs for solar parks and investors would have to look at lower returns," said Chaudhry. "Wind is a strong competitor to solar in India and I think developers would look to that as an alternative and the lofty ambitions of the government for solar could fall away."
The Vikram Solar boss, whose company imports most of its cells from Taiwan, with others from China and India as well as a small number from South Korea, says capital subsidies and priority financing for the solar industry are alternatives to duties which could foster Indian manufacturing.
"Capital subsidies are already in place under the semiconductor policy introduced five years ago," he added. "The previous government offered a 25% capital subsidy to manufacturers investing INR1,000 crore ($164 million) and above and then lowered the eligibility to an investment of 100 crore or more.
"But, five years later, manufacturers, including solar manufacturers, are still waiting for the subsidy to arrive. But there is a sincere desire in the new government to promote domestic industry and they have made encouraging noises on the capital subsidy issue."
Although the imposition of duties would have an impact on the cells Vikram Solar buys in from Taiwan and China, Chaudhary insisted he is not opposing the imposition of duties in self-interest.
"We have a module manufacturing capacity of 150 MW which we will expand to 550 MW by mid-2015," added the Vikram Solar chief. "Regardless of what decision is reached on duties, I would hope to be assembling modules made by our own cells by the end of next year.
"Our products are of the highest quality and are exported to the U.S., Europe and, recently, to Japan and will be sold out whatever decision in reached on duties.
"But there is a bigger picture at stake here. I could agree that modules, but not cells, have been dumped in India, but the wider solar industry in India is more important and I consider myself as coming from a manufacturing background and very much want to promote Indian industry."
Prime minister Modi has until Thursday to reach a decision on whether to apply AD duties.
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