07:45 IndiaŽs Solar Ambitions Fire Up Domestic, Overseas Firms
Cotation détaillée de FSLR
IndiaŽs Solar Ambitions Fire Up Domestic, Overseas Firms
DJ FOCUS: IndiaŽs Solar Ambitions Fire Up Domestic, Overseas Firms
By Eric Yep
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
MUMBAI (Dow Jones)--IndiaŽs potential INR3 trillion ($64 billion) market for solar power equipment will likely lead to a race among global companies, especially from China, to set up shop while local companies expand operations to capitalize on the federal governmentŽs ambitious solar program.
The governmentŽs National Solar Mission aims for 20 gigawatts of solar power by 2022. Phase one--lasting until March 2013--aims for 1.1 GW of grid-connected power plants, 100 megawatts of rooftop systems and 200 MW of off-grid systems.
Industry experts estimate an investment of up to INR3 trillion is needed to meet the 2022 goal, with INR180 billion needed in the first phase.
The government has approved INR43.37 billion for the first phase so far.
Indian solar equipment makers such as Tata BP Solar and Moser Baer Photo Voltaic mostly exported their output due to weak local demand.
However, global consumption was hit by the economic downturn, prompting companies to mothball production capacity for months.
The governmentŽs focus on solar power is a boon for the equipment makers: encouraging them to switch focus to local markets and expand capacity to compete with foreign players.
IndiaŽs manufacturing capacity reached around 1 GW in 2009, and this will touch 2 GW-2.5 GW by 2012, said Frost & Sullivan analyst Lakshman Rao R Sutrave. He added the programŽs total cost may fall to INR1 trillion as volume builds up.
Moser-Baer PV, the solar unit of Moser Baer (India) Ltd. (517140.BY), will double its crystalline PV capacity to about 200 MW this fiscal year at a cost of $100 million, and is targeting 1000 MW net capacity, Chief Executive Rajeewa Arya said last month.
In April, Tata BP Solar, a joint venture between Tata Group and BP PLC (BP), raised its PV cell making capacity by 62% to 84 MW. According to its website, it aims to reach 300 MW capacity.
A Tata BP executive, declining to be named, said Indian manufacturers could meet the solar missionŽs targets as its phased approach gives them time to ramp up capacity.
However, solar panel demand is expected to rise sharply and itŽs unclear whether Indian manufacturers can keep pace or if imports will be needed.
This competitive threat from overseas prompted an industry group led by Tata BP Solar chief K Subramanya and Moser Baer executive Vivek Chaturvedi to lobby the government in May for a "strong domestic manufacturing base" and "indigenous content."
They said Indian companies canŽt match China on price.
"I think itŽs reasonable to expect that Chinese solar companies will be more active in trying to penetrate the Indian market than Western competitors," said Pavel Molchanov, energy analyst at U.S.-based Raymond James. "Chinese solar companies almost always have a noticeable cost advantage."
But Indian companies will likely get the protection they seek, given the governmentŽs push for local manufacturing.
In February, the Central Electricity Authority--a regulatory body--advised state power producers to "incorporate the condition of setting up of phased indigenous manufacturing facilities" in their bids.
This didnŽt go down well with global players.
"Local content requirements--in India or anywhere else--could limit the global industryŽs ability to make the investments needed to power industry growth," a spokesman for ChinaŽs Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (STP) said.
Global companies wonŽt be deterred easily.
Suntech, the worldŽs largest producer of crystalline silicon solar panels, says it will invest in India, including the possible establishment of a local facility.
U.S.-based SunPower, which has operations in India, said it also "views India as a long-term large and strategic market globally."
-By Eric Yep, Dow Jones Newswires; 91-22-6145-6110; firstname.lastname@example.org
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