According to reports, India’s solar policy has benefited U.S. companies and not given much help to domestic suppliers even though it restricts imports of the technology, said an industry executive for a unit of MEMC Electronic Materials Inc.
Pashupathy Gopalan, South Asia managing director of MEMC’s SunEdison LLC, which provides solar services, said India’s decision to relax policies favoring local companies has directly helped First Solar Inc., an Arizona-based competitor. The executive spoke from Chennai on India’s East coast.
The comments support India’s decision last week to reject U.S. claims that it violated World Trade Organization rules on solar equipment purchases. India is set to begin talks with the U.S. over the complaint filed with the WTO. Most of India’s solar projects under the second round of the National Solar Mission were completed with imported thin film, he said.
“The government of India wants to try and nurture and grow the manufacturing side of the solar module and solar cell manufacturing,” Gopalan said in a phone interview today. “They allow the exclusion to that by allowing thin film module imports from the country that benefited the most — America.”
India has a target to generate 20,000 megawatts of solar power by 2022 under the National Solar Mission.
Vineet Mittal, managing director of Welspun Energy Ltd., India’s biggest developer of solar projects, said he hoped that India avoids trade barriers.
“We need to have a long-term perspective to this whole issue,” he said in an e-mailed statement. “India wants to export product manufactured in India to all over world, which is becoming more globalized than ever.”
India should strengthen local manufacturing by waiving import duties on components that go into a module, give tax breaks and incentivise for capital expenditure, Gopalan said. This will help the local manufacturers to compete with global companies, he added.
Gopalan said protecting the local market through trade barriers would push up the cost of electricity.