India increases its solar exports 66% YoY, says Mercom

India’s solar PV manufacturing sector increased its imports by 66% year-on-year between April and August this year, finds new analysis of official government figures by Mercom Capital Group.

Over the five-month period, Indian solar manufacturers recorded cell and module exports worth $45.55 million, up from $27.44 million during the same period in 2015.

While encouraging for India’s nascent manufacturing industry, those figures were dwarfed by solar imports, which grew 53% over the same period, from $496.9 million in 2015 to $762.7 million this year.

As reported yesterday, China remains the clear dominant source of solar imports into India, accounting for around 85% of all solar cells and modules entering the country, with Malaysia the second-largest supplier, accounting for 9% of imports – although Chinese companies operating in the country are likely to be behind this supply link.

Taiwanese suppliers accounted for 3% of imports, with the U.S. and Singapore each supplying 1% of cells and modules to India during the period in question.

With India working towards its 100 GW of solar by 2022 goal, the feeling in government is that current domestic manufacturing capacity is insufficient to meet the annual targets required, and thus measures are being introduced to support local producers.

Interestingly, the flood of cheap Chinese components has fueled exports from India, with the U.K. market remaining the largest for Indian suppliers, accounting for 36% of all solar exports. Italy (11%) and China (10%) are the next biggest markets, with the U.S. taking 8% of exports, along with Belgium.

"Indian manufacturers are mostly focused on export markets as this helps in increasing their profits. In India, developers are keen on using cheaper modules and cells as they grapple with project viability at aggressive tariffs," said an official at India’s Ministry of Commerce. "For Indian manufacturers looking outside, this is the way to earn a profit as scaling up manufacturing to reduce price is a costly affair."