VED demands completion of BHEL’s photovoltaic cell unit in Bhandara

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 22 Jan 2018 09:57:07


Business Bureau,

Way back in 2012, Sakoli in Bhandara District was to come up with a factory manufacturing photovoltaic cells required for solar panels. The project plan was initiated by Praful Patel, former Union Minister for Heavy Industries.
The proposal was approved by the then Government under the renewal energy sector and the company received 480 acres of land from MIDC for this 240 MW for solar photovoltaic cells and 100 MW photovoltaic modules manufacture at an estimated cost of Rs 2,731 crore. It was to have been the first of its kind of project in the country.

BHEL was to set up a fabrication unit at an estimated investment of Rs 1,000 crore. Right now the work is done at Trichy unit of BHEL and to increase the capacities, part of the fabrication work would be shifted to the Sakoli plant. According to the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, as on June 30, 2016, India had 20 companies actively involved in solar cell production. As many as 94 companies are manufacturing solar PV modules in the country.

The National Solar Mission was launched in 2010, and along with 100 gigawatt (GW) of solar installations, one of its objectives was to enhance the solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing capacity to 4-5GW by 2017. India’s present module manufacturing capacity is around 5.7GW; however, cell manufacturing is still lagging behind with only 1.4GW of manufacturing capacity.

Hence, the domestic cell manufacturing capacity is inadequate to cater to the 5.7GW module manufacturing capacity. The reasons behind the slow growth trend of cell manufacturing capacity additions are unavailability of raw materials, lack of technology know-how, lack of large-scale demand for domestically manufactured cells, and unskilled technical workforce.

Under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, the Government could consider incentivising the cell manufacturing industry. Exemptions in import duties and taxes on raw materials should be given to support wafer manufacturing. Cheap wafer imports will encourage domestic cell manufacturing. Today, with the land provided and wall construction already done, it is high time that the Ministry of Heavy Industries considered setting up manufacturing of this facility. Since the Ministry has not yet given its green signal the project has been stalled.

The employment that was expected to be generated has, therefore, got stalled too. The economy of the region would have prospered but unfortunately the beneficiaries i.e. ancillary developers, indirect employees, traders and small-scale industry are all languishing, informs a press release by Devendra Parekh, President of VED.