Poor qual­ity Chi­nese so­lar mod­ules flood the mar­ket

Some so­lar power de­vel­op­ers are said to be buy­ing the cheaper mod­ules to meet cost and dead­line pres­sures

Mint Asia ST - - Inside - BUY TPAL B HASKAR

In what may im­pact so­lar power gen­er­a­tion, poor qual­ity Chi­nese mod­ules— re­jected by de­vel­op­ers—are be­ing sold in the do­mes­tic mar­ket at a dis­count, said sev­eral peo­ple aware of the in­dus­try prac­tice.

With their project dead­lines ap­proach­ing, some In­dian de­vel­op­ers have taken re­course to this route to meet cost pres­sures and time­lines. Mod­ules ac­count for nearly 60% of a so­lar power project’s to­tal cost.

“These de­fects range from huge cracks (in pan­els) to low-ef­fi­ciency equip­ment. The Chi­nese sup­pli­ers know that there is a press­ing de­mand here and, hence, these tac­tics,” said a New Delhi-based chief ex­ec­u­tive of a firm, re­quest­ing anonymity, whose re­jected mod­ules were sold re­cently in India by its Chi­nese sup­plier.

With the av­er­age ef­fi­ciency of a so­lar panel usu­ally only 16-22%, any sub-stan­dard qual­ity will im­pact gen­er­a­tion.

“While an A grade de­vel­oper would re­ject them be­cause of mi­cro cracks and other de­fects, some­one will buy them at a cheaper cost. This prac­tice is be­lieved to have in­creased re­cently,” said Ga­gan Ver­mani, founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of MYSUN, a rooftop so­lar com­pany and an on­line so­lar plat­form.

The cen­tre, on its part, has come up with strin­gent qual­ity norms for so­lar equip­ment to be sold in the coun­try along with mak­ing the de­struc­tion of sub-stan­dard equip­ment manda­tory, The Eco­nomic Times re­ported on Fri­day.

“The sub-stan­dard or de­fec­tive goods which do not con­form to the spec­i­fied stan­dard....shall be de­formed be­yond use and dis­posed of as scrap by the man­u­fac­turer or the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of over­seas man­u­fac­turer from li­ai­son of­fice or branch of­fice lo­cated in India, or by any agency au­tho­rized by the man­u­fac­turer as its au­tho­rized rep­re­sen­ta­tive in India,” ac­cord­ing to a 30 Au­gust or­der of the min­istry of new and re­new­able en­ergy (MNRE) that will come into ef­fect one year from the date of its pub­li­ca­tion in the of­fi­cial Gazette.

India is also con­duct­ing an anti-dump­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion on so­lar equip­ment from China, Tai­wan and Malaysia.

Ma­jor Chi­nese so­lar mod­ule man­u­fac­tur­ers in­clude Trina So­lar Ltd, Jinko So­lar, JA So­lar Hold­ings, ET So­lar, Chint So­lar and GCL-POLY En­ergy Hold­ings Ltd.

Ex­perts say that the qual­ity of im­ported mod- ules in India has al­ways been sus­pect.

“There has long been a fes­ter­ing is­sue with qual­ity of im­ported mod­ules in India. In par­tic­u­lar, the smaller and sec­ond-tier de­vel­op­ers, un­der pres­sure to cut back on costs, are known to skimp on qual­ity. The re­sult is poor qual­ity projects with lower than ex­pected power out­put,” said Vi­nay Rustagi, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at so­lar en­ergy re­searcher Bridge to India.

“But there are also some cases, where the mod­ules get re­jected, which are then scrapped or used in rooftop and off-grid ap­pli­ca­tions. Ex­act num­bers are hard to get but we be­lieve that 20-30% of im­ported mod­ules may be sub­stan­dard,” added Rustagi.

Queries emailed to Trina So­lar, Jinko So­lar, JA So­lar Hold­ings, ET So­lar, Chint So­lar and GCLPoly En­ergy on 30 Septem­ber re­mained unan­swered. Queries sent to an MNRE spokesper­son also went unan­swered.

Elec­tric­ity dis­tri­bu­tion firms are aware of this malaise.

“This has been a con­cern all along. While I was promised a Ca­pac­ity uti­liza­tion fac­tor (CUF) of 18% for our so­lar projects, it is not even 14-15%,” said the CEO of a power dis­tri­bu­tion com­pany (dis­com) re­quest­ing anonymity.

Ca­pac­ity uti­liza­tion fac­tor is a mea­sure of how well a so­lar power plant is uti­lized and is the ra­tio of the ac­tual elec­tric­ity out­put from the plant to the max­i­mum pos­si­ble out­put dur­ing the year.

“Due to these qual­ity con­cerns, we have be­come very par­tic­u­lar about qual­ity and spec­i­fi­ca­tions with any­one who wants to set up so­lar rooftop projects for net me­ter­ing scheme as I don’t want my grid to in­ter­con­nect with a lousy panel,” added the dis­com head.

India has set an am­bi­tious clean en­ergy tar­get of 175GW by 2022. Of this, 100GW is to come from so­lar projects.

Re­al­ity check: Mod­ules ac­count for nearly 60% of a so­lar power project’s to­tal cost.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.