Intersolar Europe: India can take manufacturing center stage, says Vikram Solar CEO

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As the dust settled on a busy first day at Intersolar Europe, the show floor on the second day hummed with an even greater sense of activity and, in some quarters, positivity.

The news that SolarWorld had withdrew its membership from SolarPower Europe was greeted by many as unsurprising, given the conflicting stances of the German solar company and the former EPIA.

However, a recent suggestion by SolarWorld vice president and EU ProSun head Milan Nitzschke that companies in India could also be susceptible to the trans-shipment of Chinese solar components was refuted by Gyanesh Chaudhary, the CEO of Vikram Solar.

“I strongly oppose that suggestion because Indian companies, whatever else they might get up to, would never act in a way that would result in their reputation and quality being questioned,” Chaudhary told pv magazine. “Many Chinese companies have conducted OEMs in India, but it has always been a very clear passage of buying non-Chinese, non-Taiwanese cells, constructing them in India and shipping them to Europe. It is a very clear process, and I know of no instances where there has been any circumvention taking place.”

According to the Vikram Solar CEO, with India’s module manufacturing capacity now standing at almost 3 GW, any actions that would undermine its domestic growth would not be tolerated.

“Solar manufacturers have come of age in India,” Chaudhary said. “What would they stand to gain from supporting such behavior? What is important now is to nurture relationships in that space."

Chaudhary suggested that the days of Indian solar companies looking to China for inspiration or guidance are disappearing. “The stance from the EU anti-dumping authorities is clear – they will not entertain any circumvention, so it is important for Indian companies to take the lead on manufacturing.”

Chaudhary spoke after Bridge to India released its India Solar Handbook 2015 at the Intersolar show, which suggested that India’s PV sector could register capacity addition growth of 250% in 2015.

Compact, but smiling

If consolidation was the theme of last year’s Intersolar Europe exhibition, the word on the lips of attendees this year was ‘compact’. Spread over a slightly smaller area, crowds have felt more bustling despite there being fewer exhibitors than in 2014.

A big draw were those companies showcasing solar solutions and services that have been designed specifically to aid Europe’s PV transition. With growth stunted, companies are seeking ways to lower costs and increase ROI for their customers, meaning higher efficiency modules – such as Trina Solar’s new Honey and Honey M Plus modules with PERC – and easier to install inverters have been attracting interest.

Sungrow CEO Can Renxian described to pv magazine the benefits of its new 99% efficiency inverter, which the company is confident can help it secure a greater share of the European market.

The maturation of Europe’s solar market was also evidenced by First Solar’s O&M objectives, which have expanded across the continent under the branding of Skytron – the German development company that First Solar acquired in 2014.

“The consolidation process of the European market has moved along the chain from module manufacturers, to EPCs, and is now at O&M’s door,” said First Solar’s director of O&M EMEA, Stefan Degener. “System owners in Europe now really demand accountable O&M service to be delivered at the right level and cost, and there is an increased emphasis from banks and lenders to check the O&M service provider of a plant before releasing funds. Experience and financial strength is very important, which is why First Solar – working under the Skytron brand in Europe – is well placed to lead the O&M sector.”

Europe has around 25 GW of installed utility-scale solar plants that are ripe for greater O&M services, Degener added.