Supply chain
India rising: Solar industry and opportunities for Taiwan
Jonathan Lalremruata, special to DIGITIMES, India

India is the world's third biggest solar power market and its solar industry has been growing at a tremendous pace. It has already achieved the target of 20GW it had set for 2022, and it has now set to achieve 100GW in the next four years. India is also home to the world's largest solar park: the 2000MW Pavagada Solar Park in Karnataka covers a total area of 13,000 acres.

Cumulative capacity of installed solar power generation in India, 2011-2016 (MW)

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Source: TechSci Research

International Solar Alliance (ISA)

To further accelerate the solar growth story, India's brainchild, the International Solar Alliance (ISA) was launched on November 30, 2015 under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). ISA became a legal entity in December 2017, and Feb 9, 2018 it became a registered entity under UN Charter. ISA is a treaty-based alliance, currently having 121 member countries with the sole aim to promote rapid and massive deployment of solar energy.

At the ISA's Founding Conference held in New Delhi in March 2018, prime minister Modi announced one of the world's largest investment plans in solar energy: a US$1.4 billion line of credit to cover 27 projects in 15 countries and boost the much-required financial power to the solar sector. The prime minister also announced the launch of Solar Technology Mission to lead R&D efforts in the solar sector. The summit was co-chaired by French president Emmanuel Macron along with 61 representatives from the 121 member countries.

According to ISA director general, Upendra Tripathy, the ISA will generate a global solar market of a trillion dollars and generate political support for the solar roadmaps of member countries in areas of demand aggregation, innovation, standards, quality control, R& D and capacity building.

The objectives of ISA are: To undertake joint efforts required to reduce the cost of finance, cost of technology; spur investments across the supply chain, including manufacturing, project development and storage; mobilize more than US$1,000 billion of investments needed by 2030 for massive deployment of solar energy; and pave the way for future technologies adaptation.

ISA enjoys a unique positioning as it partners with sun-rich developing countries and acts as an enabler and facilitator with the sole aim to make green energy available to all.

Capacity Addition: The Indian Narrative

India's solar power initiatives at the global stage reflect recent trends within the country. Some of the local initiatives by the Modi administration include:

- Installation of 100GW of solar capacity by 2022
- Prioritizing the expansion of solar over other renewables technologies
- Launch of a reverse auction system for solar capacity to attract investors into the market - strengthening the project pipeline
- Increasing the availability of funding to the renewables sector
- Allocation of concentrated zones of development for ultra-mega solar power projects (UMSPP) to de-risk project development by - driving down the implementation time and cost of projects
- Increasing power demand and prices for fossil fuels
- The National Solar Mission (NSM) projected to gradually lower installation cost of system

Improvements in manufacturing technology have led to the reduction in cost of solar panels which has resulted in reduction in cost of solar power generation. The reduction in the cost of solar power coupled with strategic policy of the government has resulted in increase in solar power into the energy mix of the country.

Trends of Indian solar power tariff, 2011-2017

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Source: India government

To boost the solar power generation in the country, the government of India has announced various policies and regulations including: accelerated depreciation; capital subsidy; Renewable Energy Certificate (RECs); Net Metering Incentives; and Assured Power Purchase agreement. The schemes formulated by the government intends to reduce the capital expenditure in building a solar power plant, and subsidize the power generation to make it economically viable for the stakeholders involved in the solar power business.

The cumulative effect of solar power initiatives projects an addition of India's solar capacity to the tune of 56GW over the next five years.

Opportunities for Taiwan's Solar Industry

India's current and future prospects in solar power initiatives intersect propitiously with India's lead role in the ISA: they open up tremendous opportunities for Indian solar players at a global stage while also boosting the overall business sentiment.

India imports 90% of its solar modules out of which 85% comes from China, which leverages against domestic manufacturers. The government of India has indicated intent to impose duties in the interest of domestic manufacturers. Geopolitically, the ISA is a concerted attempt by India to checkmate China's leadership role in the developing world where China, by virtue of its economic prowess, has made huge inroads over the past two decades.

A global leader in the solar industry, Taiwan has a well-established ecosystem in place. Its capacity to innovate and produce wafers to cells, and modules to complete PV systems presents a strategic opportunity for Taiwan's industries to collaborate. Given that Taiwan's local market is already saturated, any way forward must focus on the export market. To facilitate this orientation, the India-driven ISA member countries expand the market exponentially. In sum, India's large greenfield market and India-led ISA provides an excellent platform for Taiwan's solar industry to capture not only India but also the global solar market.

Showcasing its commitment as a global leader in solar power, India will be hosting the Solar India 2018 Expo at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi from 23-25 May, 2018.

(The author of this article, Jonathan Lalremruata, will coordinate Taiwan-based industries at the Expo in New Delhi. He may be contacted at: jonathan.lalremruata@gmail.com)

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