Indian solar cell manufacturers have, for the second time, approached the government for imposing anti-dumping duties on the large-scale import of solar cells. Alleging "cheap solar cells have captured close to 90 per cent market", they demanded action against the US, European Union, China, Malaysia and Taiwan for dumping products in India.
Unlike the first case in 2012, the manufacturers' application is filed with both the Directorate General of Anti-Dumping (DGAD) under the commerce ministry and Directorate General of Safeguards (DGS) under the ministry of finance.
The last case ran for two years at DGAD, which saw solar cell makers, allied electronics industry and even glass makers asking for protection against the import of solar panels. Then, the domestic industry alleged of 60 per cent market being eaten by imports.
While DGAD finalised duties to the tune of $0.48 a unit to $0.81 a unit on the solar cells imported from the above-mentioned countries, the finance ministry did not impose the same and let the duty lapse in May last year.
Last year, minister for new and renewable energy Piyush Goyal assured the domestic industry of enough business opportunity requesting them to drop the case. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has revised the National Solar Mission targets five-fold to 100,000 Mw by 2022.
Demanding investigation, Indian Solar Manufacturer's Association's letter to the DGS and DGAD dated September 18, reviewed by Business Standard, cites "the aggravated situation of imports and consequent injury to the domestic industry".
TAKING THE SHINE OFF
The letter has quoted the earlier judgment by DGAD "identifying injury on Indian solar cells and recommended anti-dumping duty on all such imports from subject countries except EU".
In 2014, the commerce ministry identified a dumping margin range of 50-60 per cent from the US and 100-110 per cent by China, the largest exporter of solar cells worldwide.
In their application, the Association said, "It is very apparent that exporters from these countries are taking benefit of this non-imposition and have once again intensified the dumping and if it is not curbed the same can lead to a complete annihilation of Indian production of solar cells."
The installed solar cell manufacturing capacity in the country is 1,250 Mw, out of which only 250 Mw is operational. "Most of the units have either shut down or running at less than half capacity due to tepid demand and slow pace of award of the projects," said a member of the Association.
The annual demand of the solar power generation sector is 4,000 Mw, which is likely to shoot up with the targets being revised upwards.
For FY16, projects of 950 Mw are in pipeline for the domestic solar cells makers. The government has kept a certain amount of projects under the Solar Mission to be built only on domestic content. The US has filed case in the World Trade Organization contesting the same.
The ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE), however, said this would not have any major impact on the government's drive to tender out solar power projects.
"The projects earmarked for domestic players is more than their capacity. The case though would take its own course and close to a year and half to reach finality," said a senior MNRE official.
Around 80 per cent of the Indian solar power production capacity is built on imported solar cells, half of which is from China alone. Chinese panels are the cheapest worldwide, according to industry estimates.
Imported panels, especially from China and the US, are 30-40 per cent cheaper than domestic ones. The price of imported cells has declined to $0.45 a unit due to increased demand in the country in the past three years.