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Coronavirus outbreak: India’s solar sector could try and play catch-up

With Chinese vendors alerting Indian developers about delays in production, quality checks and transport of components due to the coronavirus outbreak, Indian solar industry captains believe there is an opportunity in this crisis.

Modules account for nearly 60% of a solar project’s total cost. Chinese companies dominate the Indian solar components market, supplying about 80% of solar cells and modules used here, given their competitive pricing. India has a domestic manufacturing capacity of only three gigawatts (GW) for solar cells and 10GW for wind power equipment.

“The coronavirus crisis reflects India’s inability to create a diversified manufacturing base beyond China. Based on this experience, it is probably one of the best opportunities for Indian companies to invest in sectors such as solar cell, module and inverter manufacturing,” said Sunil Jain, chief executive officer of Hero Future Energies Pvt. Ltd.

India looks to position itself as an alternative manufacturing destination for global companies after the coronavirus outbreak exposed how heavily they are reliant on China for raw materials and production, Mint reported on Monday.

Top government officials are holding meetings with industry representatives as the disruption in China due to a lockdown in huge swathes of the country has opened up opportunities for India to emerge as an alternative manufacturing destination.

At play is India’s renewable energy programme, which would require $80 billion in investments till 2022. This figure will grow more than three-fold to $300 billion during 2023-30. India imported $2.16 billion worth of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, panels, and modules in 2018-19.

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