MNRE Implements Quality Control Measures to Address Low Quality Solar Equipment

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has begun implementing a quality control order that requires manufacturers to register with the Bureau of Indian Standards for the use of a “Standard Mark” to comply with the Indian quality standard.

The order, titled “Solar Photovoltaics/Systems/Devices/Components Goods (Requirements for Compulsory Registration) Order, 2017” is scheduled to become effective on January 1, 2018. The MNRE has asked stakeholders to provide views and comments by November 28, 2017.

The order was initially slated to come into force on September 5, 2018, one year after its date of publication in the Official Gazette of the Government of India. However, the MNRE shortened the waiting period to speed up the start of order enforcement. The draft technical regulation for the order was first released in August 2016.

Speaking about the order, an MNRE official previously told Mercom, “This is a necessary step, we have been hearing from stakeholders that project quality should improve, and this order will take care of the quality of materials utilized.” The official added that the order is also expected to stop the supply of below-par modules and other supplies to India and increase the project capacity utilization factor (CUF).

When asked why the order is being enforced nine months ahead of its original commencement date of September 5, 2018, the same MNRE official said, “Not much tendering has been done in the past few months, in the new financial year all developers and tendering agencies will plan their market strategies, it’s better that the policy is in place before a flurry of activity begins.”

The MNRE official went on to say that implementing the order before the start of the next fiscal year will give all stakeholders ample time to understand its implications and adjust accordingly.

Of late, the MNRE has been tying up loose ends in an effort to improve project quality. Recently, the MNRE also issued a clarification for the DC system configurations applicable to off-grid and grid-connected solar PV applications.

All of this activity comes as some developers are cutting corners to make project economics work in the current highly competitive auction environment. There is concern in the industry that many of these projects may not last 10 years, let alone the full length of their 25-year PPAs.