Solar Industry Awaits Clarity on ALMM Extension and Implementation (1)

The deadline for implementing the approved list of models and manufacturers (ALMM) has passed, and the industry is still in limbo. There’s no update yet on the new deadline as the previous deadline of September 30, 2020, has passed. The industry is also waiting for clarity on the implementation process as the pandemic will be affecting regulations mandating inspection of facilities in India and outside.

The ALMM was proposed to enlist eligible models and manufacturers of solar cells and modules complying with the BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) certification. Enlisting in ALMM is mandatory for manufacturers supplying to the government-owned solar projects. The list was announced to monitor the quality of components being used in government-owned solar projects.

Though the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) issued the ALMM order in October 2018, the implementation deadline has seen several extensions. The last was September 30, 2020, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking on the implementation of ALMM, one of the top executives working with a leading solar developer said, “I’m not sure if the government is serious or not, as they have not issued any clarification. Many have applied and paid the fees, but I feel this is going to take time.”

Mercom had written about the pros and cons of the government’s decision to go ahead with the ALMM order. The order has raised more questions than it has answered. While some players believe that ALMM listing would take the solar industry forward, others said that the process is redundant and would cause more harm than good.

With the restrictions due to the COVID-19 situation, traveling within the country is not considered safe, let alone international site visits, which will be extremely unsafe, expensive, and impractical. The ALMM regulation, which mandates inspection of manufacturing facilities in and outside India, needs to be revised before it is implemented.

In July, MNRE issued a notice that the ALMM would only apply to bids held 30 days after the order is finalized and published. The ministry also said that it is setting up a committee to review the issues with the ALMM. The committee was to recommend the manner and date of implementing the ALMM order and submit its report within 15 days of being constituted.

There is no information to date if the committee has been set up, and if it was, what the recommendations were.

“ALMM is not a big issue anymore. Bids will not be affected unless ALMM is announced, and in all likelihood, it will either be postponed or withdrawn,” opined another executive at one of the top solar developers.

Industry stakeholders Mercom spoke to believe that ALMM has been kept as a backup if basic customs duty (BCD) fails to come in to ensure that the domestic market is incentivized.