2015-16: First Solar gets a place in the Indian sun

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Two global renewable energy majors, Gamesa and First Solar, achieved significant milestones in the Indian market in March 2016. Gamesa, the Spain-headquartered wind turbine manufacturer, sold a shade over 1 GW of windmills in 2016-17, the most for any company in that year. No other company has ever sold 1 GW of machines in a single year. Also, Gamesa had only a few months earlier crossed cumulative sales of 2 GW in India. India also contributes the most to the company’s global turnover, around 30 per cent. First Solar, US-based solar cells and modules manufacturer, recently announced that its cumulative sales crossed 1 GW in India. India today has solar capacity of 6,018 MW, which means that one out of every six MW of solar capacity in India is made with First Solar’s modules. Both Gamesa and First Solar have been active in India for the past four years. Now, both companies face the challenge of defending their market shares in a growing market. The challenge is greater for First Solar, as the solar market is exploding. On the basis of projects awarded for construction, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy expects 10 GW of solar installations in the current year, compared with 3 GW in 2015-16. A sixth of this would mean sales of about 1.6 GW, a tall order for First Solar, given its global manufacturing capacity is 2.5 GW. Also, the company’s home market is growing too. Sujoy Ghosh, Chief Executive Officer of First Solar India, speaks of India as a 5GW-a-year market. He says that the recent decision of the US government to extend the ‘Investment Tax Credit’, which gives tax-breaks for solar investments, till 2021, has helped free-up capacity. ITC was to expire for solar in December 2016, and there had been a rush to complete projects by the deadline to catch the sop. Now that the tax-break has been extended, the rush has also moderated and there is capacity available to cater to other growing markets like India. Gamesa, on its part, is looking to keep its leadership position, against the challenge of other players like Suzlon and, Inox, which sold 790 MW of machines last year, more than twice in the previous year. Gamesa, which is having a good run with its 2 MW turbine, is looking to bring to India its newly-launched product, the 2.5 MW machine. Gamesa also wants to extend its wings beyond wind. It is building solar power plants for others, for which it has orders for 60 MW.

Source:  The Hindu Business Line

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