The solar glass opportunity in India

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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 5-6 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.

For adding 35-38 GW of solar module capacity in the next three years or so, our solar glass capacity has to expand by 7-8 times to meet the demand.

pv magazine: What’s the potential for growth?

Gautam Shahi: 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 7-8 times to meet the demand.

pv magazine: Do you think the government policies are conducive enough to support local production and provide a level-playing field to domestic manufacturers?

Gautam Shahi: 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 of solar glass as well.

pv magazine: What’s the case for new entrants?

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

Some of existing large players are global companies and already have a good presence in solar glass outside India. Globally, from the technology perspective, they already had that technology but then the module production itself was in a very nascent stage in India. Now that a large solar module capacity has been established in India, the local demand for solar glass is also increasing and is likely to increase further.

However, with discontinuation of import duty on solar tempered glass last fiscal, the momentum on domestic capacity addition will remain slow. Government’s initiative to restrict imports or improvement in efficiency of domestic players to compete with imports will be crucial to kickstart the capacity addition for solar glass in India and will be a key monitorable.

 

This article was updated on July 17, 2023 to accomodate revised inputs from Crisil.

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