Solar Imports and Exports

Indian solar imports spiked considerably in the third quarter (Q3) of calendar year (CY) 2018. According to the latest data from the Department of Commerce, solar modules and cells worth $602 million (~₹42.96 billion) were imported by India in the third quarter of 2018. This figure is approximately 38 percent more than the $436.63 million (~₹31.21 billion) of solar cells and modules imported by India in the previous quarter of 2018. However, import activity was down 17 percent compared to the same quarter in 2017.

In Q3 CY 2018, India exported solar cells and modules worth $56.23 million (~₹4.01 billion), a growth of 223 percent when compared to Q2 CY 2018. In Q2 CY 2018, India had exported solar cells and modules worth $17.4 million (~₹1.24 billion).

India’s Solar Exports Jumped by 223% While Imports Increased by 38% in Q3 2018

“The increase in import activity in Q3 has to do more with prior orders based on project timelines than actual market conditions in the country,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group.

Mercom has been reporting consistently on the various ambiguities and uncertainties that have curtailed the growth trajectory of solar power in the country. Over the past few months, there has been a slowdown in solar installations due to uncertainties relating to safeguard duty and the pass-through option. GST issue is still unresolved. Uncertainty due to the need to sign provisional bonds and declarations even when importing solar components from Vietnam and Thailand which are not included in the list of countries attracting safeguard duty, also seems to have affected trade activity.

China continues to be the single largest supplier of solar modules and cells to India. Chinese companies accounted for nearly 84.5 percent of solar imports to India in Q3 CY 2018 a slight rise from over 75.9 percent in the previous quarter.

Singapore accounted for 6.9 percent of India’s imported solar cells and modules in Q3 CY 2018, totaling $41.33 million (~₹2.93 billion), making it the second largest supplier of solar to India. Singapore has more than doubled its market share in the three-month period from July to September 2018. Taiwan has leapfrogged Malaysia, Canada, Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong to emerge as the third largest supplier of solar modules and cells to India with 3.8 percent of market share.

Malaysia accounted for 1.3 percent of all solar imports to India in Q3 CY 2018 followed by Canada and Thailand at 0.7 percent each, Vietnam at 0.6 percent, and Hong Kong at 0.4 percent.

In Q3 CY 2018, the U.S. accounted for 58 percent of all solar modules and cells exported from India. This is down from 63 percent in the previous quarter. Denmark, Australia, Poland, Netherlands and Belgium were other major countries that sourced Indian made solar cells and modules.

Detailed import/export data and charts will be available in our upcoming Mercom India Q3 2018 Quarterly Market Report.