Exhibitions India Group and 6th Smart Cities India expo Hosted Webinar

Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan

New Delhi, July 20th, 2020: Exhibitions India Group and 6th Smart Cities India expo hosted a live webinar with industry veterans on ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan- Strengthening India’s Solar Manufacturing Sector.’

Moderator: Mr. Santosh Kamath, Partner, KPMG drove an insightful session with the panel weighing in on the challenges and opportunities presented by the pandemic for the Indian solar sector. “The entire new infrastructure in the country for electricity over the next 10 years will be powered by solar, wind and some amount of hydropower. This is a big opportunity for India, and we must capitalize on the domestic market, just like the Indian auto industry did back in the 90’s. Manufacturing of solar products can contribute up to 3% of the GDP, as well as add to our exports- for which we must become globally competitive.”

Agreeing with the moderator on following the auto industry’s example, Dr. Hitesh Doshi, CMD, Waaree Group remarked, “The Indian auto industry back in the 90’s levied 150% import duty, which propelled us into manufacturing our own products, and India today is a leading two-wheeler producer. India and China were at step with each other a decade ago, but China kept a focus on manufacturing, and is miles ahead of the Indian solar industry today. Our new focus must be on manufacturing domestically, as that helps us keep money in the system as well.”

Emphasizing on the need to develop our own expertise, Mr. Saibaba Vutukuri, CEO, Vikram Solar said, “In 2009, China declared solar as a strategic industry, and similar waves were witnessed across Europe- which is when I jumped ship from wind to solar. For 4-6 years, China focussed on building solar technology, manufacturing and expertise. While India has subsidized solar raw materials, since 90% of our requirements are imported from China- the subsidy ends up going to China.”

Mr. Manjunatha D V, Founder and Managing Director, Emmvee India “The solar production supply chain is long, and just like the government has created solar parks in Rewa etc., we need to create self-sufficient clusters for activities such as raw materials and testing. We are highly dependent on other countries for testing procedures today. While India’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ index has improved globally, there’s a lot of be done to make it favourable all across the country. We can follow the example of countries such as China and many European countries where there’s great emphasis on keeping the generation of employment and revenue within the country. We need to create favourable policies in order to make manufacturing a productive endeavour.

Explaining the history of $18 billion import bill of the Indian solar sector, Mr. Rabindra Kumar Satpathy, Executive Vice President Business Development, Orb Energy said, “Early in the 2000’s, the Indian solar sector was high on the manufacturing sentiment with key players like Tata Solar promoting the manufacturing environment. In 2007, we saw Reliance looking at the entire supply chain of polysilicon. But as the financial crisis hit in 2008, most Indian companies were compelled to stop developing expertise due to budgetary constraints. China however kept forging ahead, and while India was at the same level back then, China today is a leader in solar manufacturing.”

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