Solar Modules are Getting Cleared through Customs With Some Delays

Following the escalated border tension between India and China, the security checks at the ports are going on in full swing. Imported equipment and parts are being checked for malware, trojans and other security threats as well as for adherence to Indian standards. Many stakeholders say that the checks and delays are acting as impediments in the smooth functioning of the solar supply chain, but consignments are being released.

Recently, the Ministry of Power (MoP) issued a notice mandating all power supply system equipment, components, and parts imported into the country must pass through a check for harmful embedded software. The Ministry explained that the power sector is a “strategic and critical sector” and that any threats to the country’s power supply system could have catastrophic effects and potentially cripple the entire country. Additionally, the Ministry ordered that all these tests must be conducted at certified laboratories that it has designated.

Speaking to Mercom, a senior executive from a leading module supplier, said, “They are not stopping our panels, but are taking some time to give the green signal. They are doing a thorough check, but they are not blocking our consignment. Their main concern is for equipment, such as transmission & distribution line components and inverters where SCADA is used. For modules, they are doing a thorough check. We received our consignment last week, it takes time, but we can get our stock.”

The ongoing border dispute between India and China has complicated matters for the solar industry, and it is going to have deep ramifications for the industry, which is heavily dependent on Chinese imports.  In the calendar year 2019, India imported solar cells and modules worth $2.17 billion. China was the largest exporter of solar modules and cells to India in CY 2019, with a market share of nearly 78%, followed by Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, and Hong Kong.

Commenting on the checks at the ports, an executive at another leading module supplier, said, “We can get the customs clearance for our modules. A few days back, they were not clearing the stock, but now it is happening. There were issues for 3-4 days, but now it is fine. The Ministry can impose duties but cannot stop the import of materials. So, once the consignment reaches the port, it becomes the asset of Indian companies. We are not importing and stocking in a warehouse as the market is very uncertain right now.”

Similarly, an executive at another leading module supplier, said, “Previously, there was no problem at the ports. For the past few weeks, there has been a delay in module shipments from the port to the developer’s site. Now, though there is a delay, we can get the consignment.”

A few days ago, Mercom reported about the border tension between the two countries affecting the solar imports at India’s ports. The disruption in releasing the consignments at the ports has started to hurt solar developers, which in turn is delaying the development of several solar projects in the country, claim industry experts.

According to them, the Indian companies have already paid for the consignments which are presently stuck at various ports of the country. Speaking to Mercom, the President of Rajasthan Solar Association previously said that it is the Indian companies who are adversely affected due to the deadlock at the ports.

Some of the ports where these consignments are stuck are Jawaharlal Nehru Port, also known as Nhava Sewa Port in Mumbai, Krishnapatnam Port in Andhra Pradesh, and a few private ports in Gujarat. Further, he said that the Indian solar developers have also issued advance payments and letters of credit (LoC) for the consignments.