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India needs to learn from Intersolar North America show!


Intersolar North America successfully concluded its seventh annual show in the heart of the United States’ largest solar market, California. More than 17,000 visitors from 74 countries visited 530 exhibitors.

Abundant solar radiation in India!

Abundant solar radiation in India!

The show had the latest innovations in the photovoltaic, energy storage, balance of systems, mounting and tracking systems, and solar heating and cooling market sectors.

It just shows how the USA has evolved as a leading market for solar PV over the years. One could feel USA creeping up on China! Which brings me to the other significant news.

Recently, there was news regarding the USA-China solar dispute. USA has won huge anti-dumping tariffs in the US-China solar panel trade case. A preliminary decision by the US Department of Commerce has imposed significant tariffs on Chinese solar modules in the anti-dumping portion of the case.

The decision has also closed SolarWorld’s “loophole,” which is said to have allowed Chinese module manufacturers to use Taiwanese cells in their modules, circumventing US trade duties.

Will this affect the Chinese PV module suppliers? Perhaps, not that much. Why so? China itself has a very huge domestic market for solar PV. They can continue to do well in China itself. It can also sell solar PV modules in India, as well, besides other regions in the Asia Pacific.

That brings me back to Intersolar North America 2014. Why was there such a low presence of Indian companies? The exhibitor list for the show reads only two — Lanco Solar Pvt Ltd and Vikram Solar Pvt Ltd. Where are the others?

If one looks at the Ministry for New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) website, there is a notification stating that a National Solar Mission (NSM) is being implemented to give a boost to solar power generation in the country. It has a long-term goal of adding 20,000 MWp of grid-connected solar power by 2022, to be achieved in three phases (first phase up to 2012-13, second phase from 2013 to 2017 and the third phase from 2017 to 2022).

Well, the MNRE has also put up a release stating complaints received about the non-function of the systems installed by channel partners. Without getting into details, why can’t Indian suppliers get to the ground and work up solidly? Some of the complaints are actually not even so serious. System not working. Channel partner not attending complaint! And, plant not working due to inverter (PPS) burnt down. These should be attended to quickly, unless, there is some monetary or other issue, which, at least, I am not aware of!

The CNA Corp.s Energy, Water, & Climate division released two studies earlier this week, which found that cost-effective options that power plants can use to cut water use can also help plants reduce CO2 emissions.

The first report, Capturing Synergies Between Water Conservation and Carbon Dioxide Emissions in the Power Sector, focuses on strategy recommendations based on analyses of water use and CO2 emissions in four case studies, which are detailed in the second report, A Clash of Competing Necessities: Water Adequacy and Electric Reliability in China, India, France, and Texas.

CNA’s Energy, Water, & Climate division released two studies, which found that cost-effective options that power plants can use to cut water use can also help plants reduce CO2 emissions.

“It’s a very important issue,” said lead study author Paul Faeth, director of Energy, Water, & Climate at CNA. “Water used to cool power plants is the largest source of water withdrawals in the United States and France, and a large source in China and India.”

“The recommendations in these reports can serve as a starting point for leaders in these countries, and for leaders around the world, to take the steps needed to ensure the reliability of current generating plants and begin planning for how to meet future demands for electric power.”

India needs to learn from the Intersolar North America show. It also needs to look carefully at CNA’s reports. It is always great and good work that attracts global attention. India has all of the requred capabilities to do so!

Solarcon India 2012: Solar industry in third wave!

September 3, 2012 1 comment

SEMI, USA.

SEMI, USA.

There are three phases of PV industry development, including formation, regional development and globalization, according to Bettina Weiss, VP, Global PV Business Unit, SEMI, USA. She was delivering the opening keynote at the ongoing Solarcon India 2012 event in Bangalore, India. The event runs till September 5.

According to her, in the first stage, discoveries lead to inventions. Inventions find niche and high-value applications. Technology, and not manufacturing is the key driver here. For regional development, new industries seen as source for economic development. Markets develop through government subsidies. Global supply chains and regional clusters of excellence develop as well.

State of global  PV industry
The government policy support for PV has been strong till 2011. However, it may fall of during 2012-16. The supply-demand balance was generally stable till 2011, which could likely see structural overcapacity in 2012-16. The demand, which has been over 70 per cent till 2011, will likely see -20 per cent growth from 2012-16.

While there were many ‘saviour’ markets, such as Spain (2008), Italy (2010) and Germany (2009-11), Europe may prove to be not enough to absorb excess capacity in 2012-16. Poly, scale and the learning curve had been competitive till 2011, and are likely to give way to non-poly costs, technology and efficiency during 2015-16. While the gross margin was consistently above 20 per cent till now, the path to profitability remains unclear for the period 2012-16.

As for the cell and module makers performance, sharp price declines since 2011 have stimulated record installations globally. The effect on PV manufacturers have been severe. The entire supply chain has been plagued with collapsing margins.

Revenue to shipment ratio declined for five consecutive quarter since Q1 ’11. The list of insolvencies keeps growing. The outlook for 2012 is that volume/shipment upside is likely, but the path to profitability is still unclear.

Then, there is the ongoing solar trade war!

The US Department of Commerce (DOC) levied anti-dumping tariffs against Chinese solar module imports, with tariffs ranging from 31 per cent to 250 per cent. In response to the US tariffs, China’s Ministry of Commerce, on July 21, 2012, announced that it will start its own AD and CVD investigation on imported solar-grade polysilicon from US, and is initiating an AD investigation on these imports from South Korea. The EU Commission will decide by mid-September whether to accept a similar complaint and launch an investigation.
Read more…

Solar PV industry recommended to stay optimistic; US govt. supports India’s clean energy initiative!

November 9, 2011 1 comment

Solarcon India 2011 started today in Hyderabad, with Jim Brown, president, Utility Systems Business Group, First Solar Inc., stating that the global solar PV industry is in a bit of the state of turmoil. Some are driven by pure supply-demand. He recommended the industry to be strategically optimistic. He cautioned that not everyone who’s playing in this field, will go on to survive the next two to three years. First Solar reiterated its optimism regarding its own prospects in the industry.

Dr. Bharat Bhargava drives home a point!

Dr. Bharat Bhargava drives home a point!

Commending Solarcon as a flagship event for the Indian solar PV industry, Dr. Bharat Bhargava, director – Photovoltaics, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Government of India, said that the policies and programs started by the Indian government are now yielding results. The Jawaharlal Nehru-National Solar Mission has seen the participation of the industry, the academia and the funding agencies, showing that the success of the program lies in the hands of the people involved.

When the Indian solar PV industry started, the country was said to have only 2MW.  By the end of October this year, India had 125 MW. By 2013, it will likely reach 2GW, according to Dr. Bhargava.

He apprised the audience regarding the REC (renewable energy certificate) program. Initially, the REC was for three years, but was later extended to five years. As of now, experts are consulting to enable it to increase to seven years. He estimated that the Indian solar PV industry might even go up to 100GW, instead of 20GW, and encouraged everyone to work together and make this happen.

Francisco J. Sanchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, USA, stated that a lot of excitement is in the air! “We are

Francisco J. Sanchez shows commitment to Indian solar PV industry.

Francisco J. Sanchez shows commitment to Indian solar PV industry.

committed to India and its solar industry. There are opportunities to do big things in this industry.” He added that solar has achieved a triple bottom line.

According to Sanchez, the solar industry is  worth $17 billion in India and it is growing. India is spending $19 billion by 2022 to produce 20GW of solar energy. There will be a lot of engineers, manufacturers, etc., who can monitor and contribute to the growth of the industry. He advised that India will need to add 150GW of capacity over the next five years. Therefore, India is well placed to seize opportunities with trade partnerships.

He said: “The US government fully supports India’s clean energy initiative. There is an abundance of opportunities in solar. We can achieve much more in partnerships. We are committed to working with you. It is a huge opportunity for both countries.

“Some of the obstacles include repositioning for success, where companies indulge in unfair trade practices. When the market is open for competition, it creates thousands of jobs, and the market is growing quickly, helping many. It is all about chance and choice. We have a chance to build a great industry. We need to work together in partnership and share value. We will work together for the good of India and its consumers. We hope that India will take the same approach. India now has the chance to build an exciting industry for the future.”

Solarcon India 2011 begins with record exhibitors

November 9, 2011 2 comments

Presenting the excerpts from the welcome address by Debasish Paul Choudhury, president, SEMI India, at the ongoing Solarcon India 2011, being held in Hyderabad.

This year’s show features a larger exhibition, a three-day dual track conference, and will feature three concurrent technical programs. The theme for this year’s exposition, representing the widening solar value chain in India, is “Showcasing the Solar Eco‐System: From Polysilicon to Power Plants.”

Solarcon India 2011 opens in Hyderabad, India.

Solarcon India 2011 opens in Hyderabad.

The exhibition with over 115 exhibitors from eight countries, compared to 81 exhibitors in SOLARCON India 2010, covers the entire solar value chain, will provide you an opportunity to see a wide range of new products and services offered by Indian and international companies, under one roof.

This year’s show, as many of you are aware, is certified by the US Department of Commerce (US DOC), and features an exclusive US Pavilion with 14 leading US companies participating in the exhibition. I am also delighted to welcome a 35-member Clean Tech Delegation led by the USA’s Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, Francisco J. Sanchez to the show.

I am delighted to have in our midst two other distinguished guests – Dr. Bharat Bhargava, director – Photovoltaics, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Government of India, who is widely credited to be the architect of the India’s National Solar Mission. In the same vein, I am happy to welcome Jim Brown, president, Utility Systems Business Group, First Solar Inc., the world’s largest thin film module manufacturer, with us this morning.

Featuring more than 70 speakers drawn from the industry, academia and government, the conference is themed “Charting India’s Roadmap to Solar Leadership — Translating Potential into Reality.” The conference attracts high-profile participation of solar energy leaders from all segments of the industry supply chain, academia and governments from India and around the world.

The three-day conference also includes an LED Lighting summit, co-organized with Frost & Sullivan, which will focus on SSL (solid state lighting) technology with speakers from among LED manufacturers, LED suppliers, researchers and others.

The climate in which we are holding the show this year has not been without its challenges – on two fronts: the events in Hyderabad on the one hand (which have now, we are grateful to all parties involved, returned to complete normalcy) and the considerable stress that the solar industry is under due the slowdown in the European economies, regulatory changes in the major solar markets and manufacturing over capacity resulting in a fall in PV system prices over the last two to three quarters.

This show and the support it has received are proof that the long term prospects for the solar industry remain most bright in India.

What’s happening with Indian solar/PV industry?

February 19, 2011 5 comments

I’ve just returned after attending the Renewtech India 2011 show in Mumbai, on behalf of Trafalgar Media. I am very pleased to report that there were two sessions that I was able to attend — one on “Financing of Renewable Energy Projects” and the other on “Solar Energy & Hybrids.” Besides, I made a new friend in Sarita, my associate at the show.

To read more, you’d need to go to the website titled Global Solar Technology! I will, meanwhile, attempt to put down some of my own thoughts here!

First, the show itself! I am told there were many more exhibitors in the previous edition than this year’s edition. Now, I don’t know whether that is correct, but one got the feeling that this show was small! Two, the sessions were really lively! At least, that’s what I thought! Three, there was a strong German presence at the show. Four, on a lighter note, Yingli came to the show with a large booth, but also ended up doing a raffle draw on day 2!  ;)

As for the conference, there were ‘moderate’ attendances for both the  sessions mentioned above. ‘Moderate’, because I felt that the venue, or the room that showcased the conference, was too small! Now, I may be wrong in my assessment.

However, these odd things did not have any negative impact on the sessions themselves. All speakers went full  blast at their topics, as did the audience, which, for a change, asked several interesting questions.

What was my impression about the show? It so appears that the Indian solar PV industry is well on track to perform well. However, there are some reports that not all licensees have managed a start, post the granting of 37-odd licenses by the NVVN.  What’s being done to support or help the guys who have won the NVVN licenses?

Also, there seemed to be a lot of discussions focused on solar thermal, rather than on solar PV technology. Now, why is that so? Perhaps, Solar Thermal Federation of India (STFI) has a larger role to play here!

By the way, there was a Bangalore-based supplier of LEDs, which had quite a few visitors at its booth.

And now, I am looking forward to attending the ISA Vision Summit, to be held on Feb. 21st and 22nd. Let’s see if something good comes out of this edition. Not to worry, you’ll hear from me, right here! ;)

Solar PV likely showstopper at electronica India 2010 and productronica India 2010


Don’t be surprised that given the major strides undertaken by India in solar PV,  this industry and its pavilion could well turn out to be the showstopper or the lead attraction, besides LEDs and other electronic components, at the upcoming electronica India 2010 and productronica India 2010 – which will be held in the sprawling Bangalore International Exhibition Center on Sept. 7-10.

For those interested, since its debut in 2009, this show has been split into two sections – productronica India — devoted to production technologies, SMT and EMS/contract manufacturers, PCB, solar and PV, laser, etc., and electronica India – focused on components, semiconductors, assemblies, LEDs and materials.This year, there are going to be three added attractions or special exhibit areas, namely:

* Solar pavilion.
* LED pavilion.
* Laser pavilion.

Solar PV main attraction
A report on the ‘Solar PV Industry 2010: Contemporary Scenario and Emerging Trends’ released by the India Semiconductor Association (ISA) with the support of the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA), lays out the strengths and challenges of the Indian solar PV market:

* Even though the industry operates at a smaller scale as compared to other solar PV producing nations, production in India is very cost effective as compared to global standards.

* With Government initiatives such as the SIPS scheme and JN-NSM in place to promote application of solar PV in domestic market, the Indian solar PV industry is likely to gain further edge over other solar PV producing nations.

* There is no manufacturing base in India for the basic raw material, that is, silicon wafers.

* Over the last five years, China has emerged as the largest producer of solar cells in the world. The country currently has about 2,500 MW of production capacity for solar PV as compared to India’s 400 MW.  Taiwan, with annual capacity of 800 MW, is also emerging as a major threat to the Indian industry.

* Price reduction is another major challenge for the industry as this would have greatly impact the future growth of the market.

The recently concluded Solarcon India 2010 threw up several interesting points as well. Industry observers agreed that the timely implementation of phase 1 of the historic Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JN-NSM) is going to be critical for the success of this Mission.

The MNRE stressed on the need to develop an indigenous solar PV manufacturing capacity in solar, and build a service infrastructure. Strong emphasis is also being placed on R&D, and quite rightly. Notably, the Indian government is working toward tackling issues involved with project financing as well.

All the right steps and noises are currently being taken and made in the Indian solar PV industry. If these weren’t enough, the TÜV Rheinland recently opened South Asia’s largest PV testing lab in Bangalore!

This year, an exhibitor forum on PV and solar will also take place at the Solar PV pavilion during  electronica India 2010 and productronica India 2010.
Read more…

Market opportunities for Indo-UK collaboration in semicon, electronics, green energy


Dave Gorshkov, sector champion, UKTI.

Dave Gorshkov, sector champion, UKTI.

If you can recall, the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) has been steadfastly pursuing a strategic initiative in India, with the intention to be a part of the growing electronics market in India.

In fact, UKTI partnered the India Semiconductor Association (ISA) during the ISA Vision Summit 2010 to explore the potential of how the UK and Indian semiconductor industries can work together to create powerful solutions for customers in India, the UK and the rest of the world.

UKTI, along with ISA, organized an industry meeting with Dave Gorshkov, sector champion for the UK government on ICT, electronics and semiconductors, UKTI, to discuss market opportunities for possible Indo-UK collaboration in the future.

UK areas of opportunities
According to Gorshkov, some of the UK areas of opportunities include central and regional government support, G-Cloud, Digital Britain and 21CN (BT’s 21st Century Network program), green data centers and smart grid opportunities, intelligent transport (ITS), congestion charging, CCTVs, etc.

There are several opportunities as well in the upcoming international sports events such as the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, the 2014 Commenwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England and Cardiff (Wales), and the 2018 World Cup Soccer (UK has bid for this).

Now, all of these sporting events indeed present a host of opportunities, not only for India, but for other interested nations, won’t they? Read more…

TÜV Rheinland opens South Asia’s largest PV testing lab in Bangalore


TÜV Rheinland has opened India’s first and South Asia’s largest photovoltaics (PV) testing lab in Bangalore, India.

Just last week, Deepak Gupta, secretary, MNRE, had mentioned during his valedictory address at Solarcon India 2010 that an international lab was due to start a facility in Bangalore, and here you go! But first, a bit on TÜV Rheinland.

TÜV Rheinland has the expertise of testing PV modules, having been in the solar business for over 30 years. It has a market share  over 70 percent, and has seven PV labs spread across Germany, China, Taiwan, the US, Japan (two labs), and now, India. Its testing focus is on safety, efficiency, quality and durability of solar systems.

According to the TÜV Rheinland official, the total global investment in solar PV reached a record $40 billion in 2009. The PV cells production capacity is likely to exceed 33GW in 2011. Most importantly, 78 percent of manufacturers will be located in Asia. Further, the installed capacity of global solar panels is likely to reach 33.4 thousand MW by 2015.

Business prospects in India

TÜV Rheinland is well focused on the Indian solar PV market.

TÜV Rheinland is well focused on the Indian solar PV market.

TÜV Rheinland obviously has been closely following the Indian solar PV market. India boasts of over 250 clear sunny days in year. Also, India’s solar potential is estimated at 600 TW per year. The PV industry output between 2002 and 2007 was said to 335 MW, with an export rate of 75 percent.

Coming to well known Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JN-NSM), the Indian solar PV industry is estimated to grow to 100 GW by 2030. Also, 5 percent of the total power plant area will be used for PV power plants. The Indian government is promoting roof top solar generation.

TÜV Rheinland’s test laboratory in Electronics City, Bangalore, is spread over an area of 20,000sqft., including 5,000sqft. outside exposure testing area. It has invested close to $3 million in setting up the lab, thereby indicating a very deep interest in developing the Indian solar PV industry.

This PV test lab in Bangalore also happens to be India’s first and South Asia’s largest such facility. It has some unique facilities such as five climatic chambers and two sun simulators. With the inauguration of this facility, the availability of local testing and certification will now plug a key gap for the Indian industry.

TÜV Rheinland is offering the following PV services in India – PV module testing, PV module certification, PV power plants, conventional power projects, welding and non-destructive testing, installations, material tests and third party inspections. For the statistical minded, 70 percent of PV modules go through one of the TUV Rheinland labs worldwide.

The group’s global management is well focused on the Indian market and this PV test lab is a reiteration of an ongoing, long-term commitment to India.

Friedrich Hecker, CEO, TÜV Rheinland AG, said: “With the ambitious Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission being operationalized, India is poised to take a huge leap in solar/PV. Module manufacturing, a key component of the chain, is largely domestically manufactured and offers a great export potential as well.

“The setting up of the PV lab by us today in Bangalore not only addresses the lack of such a facility in India but actually enables Indian module manufacturers to eye markets beyond India. India has always been a key strategic market for the group and all our different business units and this marks another step forward in that commitment.”

Andreas Höfer, chief regional officer, TÜV Rheinland (India, Middle East and Africa), said, “With abundant sunshine and high quality of radiation levels combined with focus on both grid and off grid applications, there is every possibility that India will be the market to watch out for in the region. We see a lot of overseas players investing here and setting up facilities or licensing technology for local players to manufacture with. In that way, both our entry and the setting up of this lab is timed well.”

Enrico Rühle, MD, TÜV Rheinland India, added: ”The Indian PV lab will be tightly interlinked to the other six laboratories across the world and will employ over 200 experts across functions. The lab which has facilities unheard of in the region like climate chambers and sun simulators will reduce the time for testing for Indian manufacturers.”

TÜV Rheinland India is part of the TÜV Rheinland Group, a leading provider of technical services worldwide. Read more…

Pressing need to address solar project financing in India: D. Majumdar, IREDA


During a session on financing solar PV in India at Solarcon India 2010 in Hyderabad, Debashish Majumdar, chairman and managing director, Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd (IREDA), said that India is facing a major problem — that is, how do we get the financial community to seriously look at solar!

He touched upon the three schemes that Dr. Bharat Bhargava of the MNRE had spoken about earlier. These are — NVVN scheme — typically 5MW/100MW schemes, rooftop component, and off-grid component.

Majumdar said that each one of these schemes has to be looked at differently. Two things will be important — generation and tariff. Tariff is derisked. All are going to look at the prediction and the forecast of generation. You will need good data to forecast for your project.

Power purchase agreements (PPAs) are signed in terms of MW. A change in mindset is also required. There are areas we often neglect. For example, the quality of water at site can create a lot of distortion in forecast generation. Or, how do you decide one module is better than the other?

On the 100MW scheme on power projects, Majumdar added that the entire history of what the distribution center becomes at downtime will be important. On the off grid component, Majumdar said that today, it looks small. However, it has the largest significance. Its impact is tremendous.

“Solar financing is tough. However, we will try to make it easier and show the financial institutions that it is possible to de-risk projects. We will get the lending community to activate itself,” he added.

Earlier, Dr. Bharat Bhargava, director, solar PV, MNRE, mentioned that the JN-NSM offers opportunities to invest in grid power projects, off grid projects and manufacturing. He added that the enabling polciy and framework is in place. Aggressive R&D and local manufacturing are necessary to achieve grid parity. He also outlined the R&D strategy. It includes:

* Research at academic/research institures on materials and devices.
* Applied research on the existing processes and developing new technologies.
* Development of CoEs on different aspects of solar energy.
* International collaborations.

Dr. Bhargava also mentioned the HRD strategy. It includes:
* Develop specialized curriculum for teaching solar energy at B.Tech, M.Tech and IIT levels.
* Announce fellowship for education and research.
* Provide training in grid and off-grid power projects.
* International training via bilatera programs.
* Testing and training institute.

India has bright future in solar PV, other RE: Stan Meyers, SEMI


According to Stanley T. Myers, president and CEO, SEMI: “India has a bright future in solar PV and other renewable energies. India should also acquire and develop the best research.” Meyers was speaking during a media interaction at the Solarcon India 2010 in Hyderabad.

(L-R): Daniel D. Martin, executive VP, PV Group, SEMI, Stanley T. Myers, president and CEO, SEMI, and Sathya Prasad, president, SEMI India, at SOLARCON India 2010, Hyderabad.

(L-R): Daniel D. Martin, executive VP, PV Group, SEMI, Stanley T. Myers, president and CEO, SEMI, and Sathya Prasad, president, SEMI India, at SOLARCON India 2010, Hyderabad.

He said: “The NSM is the change in India. You try to look for simplicity, see what’s going on, and speed. We hope that happens in India.”

Meyers added: “We see SEMI playing the role as a ‘connector’ in markets where technologies are emerging. Two things need to happen in emerging technologies as well as regions. One, there has to be a roadmap — clear and defined. Two, there has to be standards development. SEMI is already playing a key role in  the standards for PV manufacturing equipment and materials. It will extend that activity into India as well.

“Our experience in standards in semiconductors has shown that standards results in cost reduction and the net benefit of cost savings is passed on not only to the consumer, but this also allows the savings to be ploughed back into R&D by the industry.”

Phase 1 of NSM critical for success
Meyers said that phase I of the JN-NSM is extremely important for India as it is in now in the execution level. He added: “Significant accomplishments made in this phase may set the parameters of Phase II of the NSM. SEMI will work with the PV industry in India in the execution of NSM and will collaboratively work with the regional associations/industry members and other stakeholder to help achieve the goals of NSM.”EHS (Environment, Health and Safety) and industry standards are two aspects SEMI has always been focusing on. We look forward to the opportunity to do the same in India.”

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