“Emphasis should be to make India an integrated manufacturing hub”

The renewable equipment sector is experiencing a sluggish demand as the pace of adoption of renewable projects in solar and wind is very slow. Sanket D More, Founding Partner, Emerging Power Systems and Producers Pvt Ltd(EPSPPL) talks through the sluggish pace of renewable energy equipment in the India and its future.
“Emphasis should be to make India an integrated manufacturing hub”
The renewable equipment sector is experiencing a sluggish demand as the pace of adoption of renewable projects in solar and wind is very slow. Sanket D More, Founding Partner, Emerging Power Systems and Producers Pvt Ltd(EPSPPL) talks through the sluggish pace of renewable energy equipment in the India and its future.
 
What should be the government's role in building renewable market in India?
Recently the Ministry for Power and New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) issued a letter recommending the efficient utilisation of water for cleaning utility-scale solar projects. The ministry noted that the project developers are currently using too much water for cleaning solar modules, and they should try and minimize wastage. It has urged to industry to use of robotic cleaning technology, which uses less water for cleaning solar projects. 
 
This is the level at which government is fostering development in the renewables. The point using renewable energy is to save on the resources which are scarce. Using more water for cleaning solar panels is wasting of water resource. If extensive water is used for doing so, renewable energy is pointless. 
 
Do you support imposing safeguard duty on Chinese solar equipment? 
Certainly yes! This will benefit the local equipment manufacturers as Chinese equipment are really cheap which had adverse effect over Indian solar equipment sector sales. Even after imposing the safeguard duty Chinese machine costs are just 5-8 per cent higher than that of Indian equipment. If India signs Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), it may do away with safeguard duty on Chinese equipment. This would allow access to Indian market to countries like Korea, China, Malaysia, etc who have better technology. India may achieve its set goals by 2022 on renewable energy but will lose on to the aspect of Make In India. This will have a long term impact over Indian equipment manufacturers.
 
The emphasis should be to make India an integrated manufacturing hub for equipment. As far as manufacturing is concerned, India is just an assembly line, not integrated manufacturers. Indian companies are still buying equipment from China, Korea, and Taiwan.
 
What is your R&D team currently working on?
We have been developing our equipment with an Italian equipment manufacturer. India has supplied solar equipment to Italian manufacturers back in 2012 under government facilitated programme for renewable power. Development of component needs R&D budget. Very few companies in India, who are into renewable energy or power business, can churn-out a dedicated budget for component development. We are developing products for renewable energy industry under our clubbed R&D initiative which has other products like high power lithium batteries for electric vehicles, using 3D printing for component development for EVs and others.
 
What is the current scenario of renewable energy equipment industry?
The renewable energy equipment industry has seen better demand recently in terms of products particularly in wind energy- turbines, blades, control systems, battery packs. The wind projects are dominant in the South. Though there is demand for the equipment but is at a very sluggish rate, due to slow commissioning of solar projects. It is estimated that the sluggishness in solar projects commissioning will continue for a while, until the anti-dumping duty on imported solar modules comes down. 
 
A disappointing fact is that many solar equipment and service providers in South India are idle due to sudden fall in demand. Solar service providers have faced the consequences of the demand slowdown. Meanwhile, the equipment cost has increased after the implementation of GST. GST rate on solar equipment has been raised from 5 per cent to 8.9 per cent now.
 
Where do Indian solar products stand in the global market?
The solar products or equipments in India are the cheapest but are not of the highest quality. The quality of solar products in India is compromised but they do remain competitive in the market. We have seen many instances where the solar plants in a few years collapse due to the unsustainable inferior products used to reduce costs. 
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