Mercom: India’s April-October PV imports up 40%, exports down 22%

The NTPC's involvement in the Bhadla Solar Park is a boon for PV development in Rajasthan.

Combined PV shipments totalled just $224 million from April to October 2015, when the nation’s solar exports hit $72 million.

In the month of October alone, inbound shipments edged up 10% year on year, while exports plunged 84%, the Austin-based research firm said.

Chinese PV shipments have accounted for the lion’s share of India’s imports throughout the first seven months of the fiscal year, at US$1,023 million, or 87% of the market.

Malaysia came in second, with total shipments of PV cells and modules from the Southeast Asian country accounting for 7% of Indian imports, at US$82.03 million.

India’s exports of PV cells and modules reached $US56 million during the first seven months of the current fiscal year, while imports were valued at US$1.17 billion.

Those figures contrast sharply with Mercom statistics from the April-July period, which showed that India’s solar exports had soared 116% year on year, largely on the back of strong U.K. demand.

According to Mercom data, the U.K. remained the biggest buyer of Indian solar panels throughout the broader April-October 2016 period, accounting for 34% of the South Asian country’s PV exports.

Italy came second at 9%, while Belgium and China each accounted for roughly 8% of India’s outbound PV shipments.

The country’s exports appear to have taken a big hit in the wake of a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling against Indian domestic content requirements in September.

The WTO rejected an appeal by the South Asian nation against US complaints over the matter, which Washington claimed was discriminatory.

The US government had long argued against provisions in India’s National Solar Mission (NSM) requiring developers to ensure that locally produced solar panels accounted for 10% of all modules used in domestic projects.

Mercom said that India’s outbound PV shipments are now on a “gradual decline,” despite ongoing efforts to ramp up cell and module production.

Nonetheless, the country’s solar market will likely grow by 90% in 2017, according to recent research by Bridge to India.

It estimates the country’s current utility-scale pipeline at roughly 14 GW, with about 7.7 GW to be commissioned over the next 11 months, in addition to about 1.1 GW of rooftop capacity that is expected to come online by December.