Interview: Indian manufacturers request upstream commitment

pv magazine: You have plans to add to your current module capacity of 150 MW a 400 MW module facility and 250 MW in cell production. How confident are you that Indian suppliers will be incorporated into the government’s bold solar plans?

Ivan Saha: I think it is very clear that India has to be sustainable in this 100 GW dream that we are projecting. A lot of this sustainability has to be built in by promoting domestic manufacturing in a strong way. You can’t import this equipment for 100 GW from outside of India and then build the capacity.

Are you just talking modules and cells?

No. All of the domestic manufacturing value chains has to be tapped, be it cell, module, inverter, and all three are present right now in India along with other suppliers including silver paste, EVA, backsheet, which are there in small quantities in India now. All of that will get a boost.

I think the whole dream of 100 GW there will be a very a strong commitment in terms of manufacturing because it is not only a PV or clean energy commitment of 100 GW, it is also a manufacturing and a Made In India commitment that PM Modi has been asked to give.

I have heard that there has already been an informal commitment from the government that some amount of the 100 GW will be set aside under domestic content provisions. Is this right?

Yes, exactly. That is the commitment that the manufacturers have been given and the banks and the financial institutions have also given a commitment that they would be willing to finance those [manufacturing] projects, along with PV projects.

So is Vikram’s strategy then to compete in the international market place or to supply the Indian market?

It is a mix of both. Vikram Solar is presently India’s only Bloomberg’s tier one listed manufacturer. We have our modules are well accepted in Europe, in the UK and the US, we have grown our sales volumes quite well in the last years.

At the moment we are a very small player but part of our ambitious plan is to be more than 1 GW module and 500 MW cell player within the next five years. One of the reasons is that we have been forced to decline big orders because we don’t have the capacity.

There has been customers that have come to us and they have been willing to book large orders, like 20 MW in the next two months, and we simply don’t do that kind of thing because of the very small capacity we have at the moment.

Our order books are full for the next six months. And if we are at the right scale then we can serve both the international markets and also the DCR market in India that we already have.