In the calendar year (CY) 2019, India imported solar cells and modules worth $2.17 billion, a drop of almost 16% compared to CY 2018. In CY2018, the Indian solar sector had imported solar modules and cells totaling nearly $2.59 billion (~₹184.57 billion), a 37% decline from the $4.12 billion (~₹269 billion) recorded during the preceding year (CY 2017).

Solar imports have now declined for two years in a row because of a decrease in installations and the imposition of safeguard duty.

Exports, on the other hand, saw a growth of 137% and amounted to $253.01 million in the calendar year 2019.

India Solar Cell and Module Import-Export Activity ($M) 2016-2019

While imports from countries like Vietnam and Thailand saw exponential growth of 217% and 267% respectively, imports from China, Taiwan, and Malaysia declined by 21%, 81%, and 79%, respectively as compared to CY 2018. 


Solar Imports in Calendar Year 2019

China was the largest exporter of solar modules and cells to India in CY 2019, with market share of nearly 78%, followed by Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, and Hong Kong. If we consider imports in CY 2019 to CY 2018, we find that there has been rapid growth in imports from countries like Vietnam and Thailand, while imports from countries like China, Malaysia, and Taiwan have declined after the imposition of the safeguard duty on imports.

Solar Exports in Calendar Year 2019

India’s exports to the United States continued strong, accounting for nearly 76% of total market share, followed closely by Vietnam, Belgium, and Turkey. Exports of solar modules and cells to the United States amounted to $192 million, whereas exports to Vietnam and Belgium amounted to $21 million and $7 million respectively.

Solar Imports and Exports in Q4 2019

India’s solar imports saw a decline of 12% in Q4 2019 compared to Q3 of CY 2019. However, the imports grew by 12% as compared to the same period last year. Exports of solar modules and cells from India saw an increase of 74% in Q4 2019 compared to Q3 2019, whereas exports grew by 732% as compared to the Q4 2018.

India Solar Cell and Module Quarterly Import-Export Activity ($M)

In Q4, 2019, China was the largest exporter of solar modules and cells to India, with market share of nearly 85%, followed by Vietnam and Thailand with 5.5% and 4% respectively.

The United States was the biggest market for Indian exporters of solar modules and cells, accounting for nearly 87% of market share, followed by Turkey and Nepal, which accounted for 5.2% and 2.9% respectively.

In the first nine months of CY 2019, India imported solar cells and modules worth $1.6 billion (~₹115.7 billion), a drop of around 22% compared to 9M 2018. However, exports in 9M 2019 amounted to approximately $135 million (~$9.5 billion), an increase of about 46%.

Recently, Mercom reported that basic customs duty on the import of solar cells and modules into the country will remain ‘zero’ for now, even as the duty has been raised to 20%. Speaking to Mercom, an official of the Ministry of Finance said that there is a basic customs duty exemption (notification 24/2005 Customs dated March 1, 2005) in place for these items. Unless the earlier notification is amended to exclude the solar cells and modules from customs duty exemption, the components will continue to have 0% duty.

Detailed solar component data by country is available by subscription to Mercom’s India Solar EXIM Tracker. For a more in-depth look at the Exim data and charts, subscribe to Mercom’s quarterly solar market report – Mercom India Solar Update.