India reaching ~20 GW in solar capacity in 2018 from less than 3 GW in 2014 highlights a trend that has received ample support from Government of India and private players both. Precise and well-timed decisions to build a policy environment, increasing finance choices, and encouragement to entrepreneurs have helped this happen. However, recent investigation on imported textured, tempered glass (used to manufacture solar modules) imported from Malaysia by India’s Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) does not appear as an act favourable towards Indian solar growth.
Consistently deteriorating air quality is a serious issue brought on by fossil fuel usage. Not only developing countries but, even developed countries cannot seem to get out of this bind, since they share the environment with rest of the world. Cities of the world that are spewing most of the fumes are- Zabol (Iran), Gwalior (India), Allahabad (India), Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Al Jubail (Saudi Arabia) etc. Within 2016, 6.5 million people suffered and lost their lives due to air pollution and contaminants. Increasing air pollution has great impact on children as well, which is clearly indicated through the raise in children mortality rate (stood at 1.7 million in 2016).
Global relative losses of wheat due to air pollutants is estimated to be 7%–12% and reducing in rice production stands at 3%–4%. Cities like Los Angeles, and London have also suffered from increasing sir pollution during 1940–1960. However, USA has made great strides in changing the scenario for its cities and created regulatory framework, institutional mechanisms, and policy interventions that have proven to bring down pollution easily.
Although, renewable energy growth (especially solar) has been incredible in India, the country is still the third-largest oil consumer in the world (4.14/million barrels per day, 4% share of the world total). It is understandable that Indian solar industry still hasn’t grown large enough to phase out conventional energy usage and satisfy country’s growing energy demand (Installed solar capacity ~16.6 GW out of total energy generation capacity 330 GW). Therefore, the country needs a balance between conventional and renewable energy to sustain present energy requirements at hand. And continuous fall in crude oil prices from FY 12-13 to FY 15-16 allowed the country to import crude oil at a profitable margin.
However, the current rise in crude oil prices (from $39.9 in April 2016 to $52.7 in December 2016) and predictions of continuity in price hike highlights addition of forex outflow and reiterates the importance of solar energy growth.
Office of the Directorate General of Anti-Dumping (DGAD) presiding over the hearing of anti-dumping petition on 12th of December, can be considered another step in favor of domestic manufacturers towards demand creation within domestic industry. Domestic manufacturers have had a long history (nearly 5 years) of conflict against imported modules and cells.
While India kept practically doubling its solar capacity in recent years (from 5 GW in 2015- to ~16.6 GW in 2017), domestic solar manufacturers saw lack in demand creation. The industry being focused on importing solar modules, created an issue of capacity utilization of domestic manufacturers. In such a scenario, re-visiting the recent Anti-dumping issue in the solar industry can bring the results India desperately needs to become solar reliant.
The news of The Director General (Safeguards) recommending to impose 70% safeguard duty on imported solar panels and cells has created a commotion within Indian solar industry. Domestic manufacturers have had a long history (nearly 5 years) of conflict against imported solar components, as foreign (Chinese) suppliers continued dumping solar components in India at a much lower rate than existing market price. Asking for protection of domestic industry growth was a valid appeal by the domestic manufacturers. However, recent announcement of safeguard duty imposition is not what the domestic industry hoped for.