Breaking: Indian solar companies file AD petition against China

A number of Indian solar manufacturers have filed a new petition with the country’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) calling for the introduction of anti-dumping (AD) measures on solar cells and modules produced in China, Malaysia and Taiwan.

This is the third such attempt by Indian solar manufacturers to have tariffs introduced against China-produced and Chinese-owned cells and modules made in Taiwan and Malaysia. Their fears are that these low-price modules and cells are squeezing out domestic manufacturers unable to compete on price.

Since the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled last year that India’s localization rules dictating the use of domestic content were discriminatory against U.S. manufacturers, tenders based on a Domestic Content Requirement (DCR) have all-but dried up as developers opt for the far-cheaper Chinese components.

A similar petition was first filed in 2011-12 against China, Malaysia, Taiwan and the U.S., with India’s Ministry of Trade and Commerce mulling the introduction of tariffs ranging from $0.11 to $0.81/W, but eventually deciding against any such duties in 2014.

Mercom Capital Group says that this latest petition is unlikely to go far given the undisputable boon to deployment that cheaper Chinese solar cells and modules have delivered. The MNRE, however, finds itself between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, any measures that could slow the country’s drive towards 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022 are likely to be rejected, while on the other hand, much of that future target was intended to be met with local components – something that is increasingly unlikely while costs for Chinese components are so low.

The latest data from the MNRE shows that Chinese companies accounted for 85% of India’s solar module demand in 2016, cornering a $2 billion share of the market and prompting many local companies to warn that they may go out of business unless measures are put in place.

On average, Chinese cells are selling in India for around $0.19-$0.20/W, which is some 25-35% below Indian-produced components. Chinese modules, meanwhile, cost around $0.32/W – 10-20% cheaper than homemade produce. According to Reuters, the MNRE is “working on several initiatives to promote India’s solar manufacturing industry”, but more concrete details remain sketchy at this time.

Last year, Indian companies produced 1.33 GW of solar modules, according to Bridge to India, whereas annual installations reached almost 10 GW. Because of low demand, it is estimated that less than 20% of India’s module manufacturing capacity is operational.

* This article was amended on June 7 to correct the cell prices to /W, rather than the previous /kWh.