Are Solar Targets in India too Aggressive for its Panel Manufacturing Industry?
“Everything in moderation,” the old saying goes.
In recent months, India has been aggressively pursuing solar energy in order to replace its massive coal industry. Under its National Solar Mission, the government had initially planned to achieve 22 GW of solar by 2022.
There are not preliminary reports that the Modi government is looking to increase it further. The government has already announced plans for multiple ultra mega solar projects, with a generating capacity of 4,000 MW. While work on these have already started, it’s believed more projects are already in the works.
While it’s hard to find issue with aggressive solar targets, the panel manufacturing industry in India is struggling to keep up.
“When the National Solar Mission was launched, prospective project developers were required to procure crystalline modules from domestic manufacturers and had the option to buy thin-film modules from other countries,” CleanTechnica’s Mridul Chadha explained. “A majority of the solar PV project developers opted for imported modules which came bundled with very cheap debt financing from development banks like the US Ex-Im Bank. US-based First Solar was actually one of the leading suppliers of modules during the first phase of the solar mission and the projects commissioned under the Gujarat solar power policy.”
The government tried to rectify this by establishing obligations for 50 percent of capacity must come from domestic manufacturers. There’s definite concern about whether the industry can keep up, especially since the obligation may not exist for much longer.
Domestic manufacturers have been waiting for such a boom, though it may be First Solar who’s the real winner.
“India represents an interesting market for the company because the domestic Solar Panel manufacturers do not offer quality panels. Thus, consumers depend largely on the imported panels or imported cells for their solar farms,” ValueWalk’s Aman Jain writes. “As the imported panels are more efficient, the companies using them will yield higher energy, which in turn would help them to get guaranteed financing from the banks. Previously, the Indian government had plans to install about 3.6 GW of solar power by 2017, but now it has been revised to 15 GW by 2019.”
Can India’s domestic solar manufacturers keep up with demand? It remains to be seen, as these next few years will certainly provide insight.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.