Solar power developers flouting norms may face action
India plans to penalize solar power developers which are using foreign equipment in power generation projects awarded on the basis that they would only use locally made solar cells and modules, according to two government officials.
To curb such malpractices, the government will make it mandatory for developers to publicly disclose the radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag information of the panels used in solar projects. It will also be incumbent on the developers to share the RFID list of rejected panels.
Mint reported on 7 September that poor quality Chinese solar modules, rejected by developers, were being sold in the domestic market at a discount.
These projects, awarded under the so-called domestic content requirement (DCR) route by state-owned firms, are required to use solar cells and modules made in India. Also, under the solar roof-top scheme, the government gives subsidy on the condition that the modules should be made in India wherein solar cells can be imported.
“We are trying to attack that (malpractices). We have seen that under the DCR projects there have been instances wherein Chinese imports have been used,” said a senior government official, one of the two cited above, requesting anonymity.
Solar modules or panels account for nearly 60% of a solar power project’s cost. For China’s solar panel manufacturing capacity, estimated to be around 70 gigawatts (GW) per year, the major markets are the US, India and China itself.
“A case has been brought to our notice wherein a firm has put Chinese component under the DCR programme. We will take action against such cases. We are looking into such practices…We are looking into cases wherever we receive a complaint that under the DCR somebody has used foreign component,” the official added.
Indian companies are aware of the malpractice.
“The entire policy faces a risk when companies start flouting the existing rules which are there to promote domestic manufacturing and local jobs. It’s basically kind of profiteering out of a policy custom made for local jobs and it’s very important that the investigation is carried out in a time-bound manner and suitable action is taken against the people who are doing such activities,” said Ketan Mehta, managing director and chief executive of Rays Power Infra, a solar project developer.