First Solar, an American solar panel manufacturer, is set to invest $648 million into its upcoming 3.3 gigawatts (GW) production unit in Tamil Nadu.
With a market capitalization of $8.9 billion, First Solar is amongst the top three solar manufacturers globally, and its new facility in India will be its third venture in the Asian market.
However, the company has not clarified whether it will be utilizing the central government’s Rs 4,500 crore production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme to augment the solar manufacturing sector in India.
Moreover, it hasn’t been defined if the 3.3 GW facility will be segregated into producing solar cells or models.
“(India) is an inherently sustainable market, underpinned by a growing economy and appetite for energy, with a well-defined goal that will need over 25 GW of solar to be deployed every year for the next nine years,” First Solar CEO Mark Widmar was quoted in a report by The Economic Times.
Further, Widmar added that India has also coupled its clean energy targets and efficient trade and industrial policy to empower self-sufficient domestic manufacturing and proper energy security.
“India stands apart in the decisiveness of its response to China’s strategy of state-subsidized global dominance of the crystalline silicon solar supply chain. The country’s comprehensive approach provides precisely the kind of level playing field needed for non-Chinese solar manufacturers to compete on their own merits, and should be a template for other like minded nations,” the CEO said.
In June, another US-based company CubicPV had declared its plans to establish a manufacturing unit in India. These recent measures augur well for the government’s objective of achieving about 450 GW of renewable power by 2030.
The central government has taken active measures to reinforce the domestic manufacturing market by introducing the PLI initiative on ten critical sectors.
Of that, Rs 4500 crore has been designated for the solar module manufacturers for five years. As per this scheme, manufacturers will gain based on the efficiency and indigenous component of their panels.
To augur domestic production, the government will raise basic customs duty on imports of solar modules to 40 per cent from the beginning of FY23.