According to a company statement, the EoI is open to financially and technically capable foreign PV manufacturers interested in entering a strategic alliance or joint venture (JV) for establishing at least 100 MW of PV manufacturing capacity in the country.
A pre-submission meeting will take place on June 20, 2018, while the last date for EoI submission is June 25, 2018.
The EoI was released in line with the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, aimed at promoting domestic production. CEL’s expressed goal is to expand its production capacity, ramp up its solar value chain and cut the price of PV cells in India, to make the components financially viable.
CEL’s move is a much-needed step towards cutting India’s rising imports of solar modules and cells. In 2017, the country spent nearly US$4.12 billion on such imports, which was a 43% jump from the previous year’s spend of $2.88 billion.
Currently, 90% of solar PV cells are imported (mostly from China). According to the Directorate General of Safeguards, imports have risen to 9,474 MW in 2017-18 (annualized), a seven-fold increase from the 2014-15 level. Capacity utilization of local manufacturers, meanwhile, fell from 78% in 2016-17 to 51% in 2017-18.
Established in 1974, CEL is a public sector enterprise of the government of India, and has a 50-acre production facility in Sahibabad, Uttar Pradesh.
A pioneer in India’s solar space, the company has several firsts to its credit. In 1993, CEL set up India’s first solar power plant at Kalyanpur, Uttar Pradesh, with a 100 kWp capacity and the country’s first grid connected solar power plant (S.N.R. Foundation, Chennai) with a 10 kWp capacity.
The company also set up India’s first and largest grid-tied BIPV (Punjab Energy Dev. Agency, Chandigarh, 2002, 25 kWp) and first largest off-grid power plant (Brahmakumaris, Manesar, 2006, 200 kWp).