SEMI panel discussion: Immense need for globally competitive PV manufacturing eco-system in India


SEMI, the global industry association serving the photovoltaics, nano and microelectronics manufacturing supply chains, today hosted a panel discussion with prominent Indian solar industry leaders to discuss aspects of PV manufacturing in India, Phase II of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) and overall solar energy growth in India.

Following announcements that domestic manufacturing capacity of photovoltaic modules has grown to 2 gigawatts (GW), the capital city hosted leading solar industry experts to discuss how to facilitate a globally competitive PV manufacturing eco-system in India.

The discussion centered around the challenges encountered by Indian PV manufacturers, with eminent panelists that included, – Dr. Satyendra Kumar, CTO, Lanco Solar; Rajaram Pai, Business Leader, DuPont Electronics & Communications and Photovoltaic Solutions, South Asia; Ashwini K Aggarwal, Director – Government Affairs, Applied Materials India Pvt. Ltd. , Rajinder Kumar, Chairman & Managing Director, Bergen Associates Pvt. Ltd. and Bettina Weiss, president, SEMI India.

India requires the development of a top-notch PV manufacturing and market ecosystem. Satyendra Kumar, Chief Technology Officer, Lanco Solar, said, “Solar energy is very important for us to ensure energy and environmental security and to enhance the quality of life of millions of deprived people.

It has the potential to create millions of jobs too. We, unfortunately, failed to set up a semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem early enough and we now face the brunt of our electronics imports exceeding even our oil imports.“ He further added, “India fortunately was one of the earliest to invest and develop solar technology.

We now have good infrastructure to manufacture solar cells and modules, upstream materials and components such as solar glass, ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), junction boxes etc. However, our infrastructure to manufacture key materials such as silicon is almost non-existent. We need to set up a very strong manufacturing ecosystem so the Indian industry flourishes offering quality products that are globally competitive and in order that we can reap the immense potential of solar energy.”

Manufacturers and suppliers of technology, components, materials and services will all need to work together to enable India to become a solar power hub. On the global suppliers’ view of the Indian solar market, Rajaram Pai, Business Leader, DuPont Electronics & Communications and Photovoltaic Solutions, South Asia said, “Energy needs in India continue to grow as the population expands and GDP rises.

Given the abundant sunlight and need for more sustainable energy sources, solar is targeted to reach 20 gigawatts (GW) by 2022. Global suppliers have a crucial role as this new demand dictates the need to minimize costs and maximize returns for investments in solar. Helping to optimize power output and ensure 25 plus years of reliable lifetime requires experience, expertise, and a proven track record of success.

In India’s extreme climate, manufacturing, design and materials selection matter even more. As India grows, collaboration with leading suppliers will be the key.” Sharing his views on policies, the implications for India and for its vision of a self-sufficient, self-reliant solar sector, Ashwini K. Aggarwal, Director – Govt. Affairs, Applied Materials India Pvt. Ltd., said, “As the sun rises on the global solar sector, India is set to drive it’s solar sector into the mainstream with the next phase of the JNNSM and state solar policies. JNNSM Phase 1 (ending 2012) enabled climbing the learning curve through the first projects; JNNSM II scales the opportunity and establishes an ambitious-yet realistic 10-fold increase in the planned target”.

Bettina Weiss, President, SEMI India, shared details on SEMI’s global efforts to promote the solar industry. She said, “In every industry, there is a need to address shared challenges collectively. SEMI, the global industry association representing equipment and materials suppliers as well as cell and module manufacturers in PV solar worldwide, provides collaborative platforms like the SEMI International Standards Program and the International Technology Roadmap for PV (ITRPV) to strengthen the collective voice of the members, develop solutions more quickly and at a global scale, and help advance cost reduction and efficiency efforts.

Advocacy and government relations play another critical part, be it in support of continued tax credits and other incentives, or in taking an active part in creating a more constructive dialogue on trade.” In order to reap the full benefits of solar, India needs to develop a strong local manufacturing base. Product price innovation will only be possible if Indian manufacturing moves beyond the limited value-addition and product differentiation that is possible in module assembly and begins to own upstream parts of the supply chain including cells and materials.

An economy the size of India must not become solely a consumer of solar technology. It has much to offer the world in terms of materials and engineering expertise, innovation, product learning and from the vast field experience it can bring. PV is one of the most efficient job creators among all conventional and renewable energy sources and has the potential to create 10 million jobs in the next 20 years, worldwide.

It is extremely important, as India grows into a large adopter of PV in its energy mix, to bolster economic development and job opportunities as well. Studies indicate that manufacturing has a 2x greater multiplier effect on economies than the services sector because it relies more heavily on other supply and service networks.

Building a local manufacturing base in India will have huge benefits for the nation's economy – as a generator of jobs and from an energy security viewpoint. SEMI India’s fifth annual solar technology and business exposition and conference, SOLARCON India 2013 will be held at the KTPO Exhibition Complex, Whitefield, Bangalore, from 1-3 August, 2013 and will provide a common platform for PV materials suppliers, equipment manufacturers, integrators, project developers and other ecosystem enablers to meet, debate, discover new opportunities, assess the challenges and evolve plans for the future of the solar industry in India.

The event invites all stakeholders to join the discussion on developing a complete, globally competitive eco-system in India. Reflecting this, the conference will address the theme, “Balancing Energy Supply & Demand in the region – the need for a complete PV eco-system from materials to power generation”.