India’s solar glass opportunity

Gautam Shahi, the director of CRISIL Ratings, tells pv magazine that solar glass manufacturing in India is poised for growth. The company expects the segment to attract new players with significant capacity expansion plans.

From pv magazine India

pv magazine: What is the current demand and supply for solar glass production in India?

Gautam Shahi: Currently, India can manufacture about 1,000 tonnes per day of solar glass, which is adequate for module production of 5 GW to 6 GW. The country’s overall module production capacity, however, is 38 GW. Hence, there is a massive demand-supply gap, with domestic production meeting only 15% of the solar glass requirement and the remaining imported from China and Malaysia. For adding 35-38 GW of solar module capacity in the next three years or so, our solar glass capacity has to expand by seven to eight times to meet the demand.

What’s the potential for growth?

Currently, our country has installed a solar power generation capacity of 66 GW, which the government targets to increase to about 300 GW by 2030. This will require substantial capacity addition in modules

We believe that for adding 35-38 GW of solar module capacity in the next three years or so, our solar glass capacity has to expand by seven to eight times to meet the demand.

Do you think the government policies support local production and provide a level-playing field to domestic manufacturers?

The government’s focus on “Make in India” and “Atmanirbhar Bharat,” along with the impetus for module manufacturing through production linked incentive (PLI) and Approved List of Models and Manufacturers schemes, will encourage domestic production in a big way.

Earlier, most of the modules, including glass, were imported. The imposition of import duty on solar panels has fuelled module manufacturing in India, which will increase domestic consumption and production of solar glass as well. The import duty on solar tempered glass already in place is a positive for domestic manufacturers and should generate a lot of interest in new capacities.

What’s the case for new entrants?

There will be new entrants as well as capacity addition by existing players. Further, about 15 to 20 players have announced plans to launch solar module capacities, which will propel solar glass capacity addition.

Getting the cost right, ensuring the variability in raw material prices is absorbed in the final product in the market, the high upfront capital cost and technology have traditionally been some of the constraints for new players entering solar glass manufacturing.

Earlier, there wasn’t much policy support – such as import restrictions and PLI benefits— to set up more capacities, which may be why the cost of domestic production was not on a par with imported products.

Though some of the existing large players, which are global companies with a significant presence in solar glass outside India, had the technology, module production itself was then in a nascent stage in India. 

Now that a large solar module capacity has been established in the country, local demand for solar glass is increasing and will continue to rise. With government policies also supporting local production, some of these established players will also come in to tap the market.

This post appeared first on PV Magazine.

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