Used Chinese solar panels set off quality fears

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In what has caught the Indian solar industry by surprise, used Chinese solar modules—the rectangular panels often seen on rooftops—are being sold in the domestic market at a discount. Once installed in China, they are now being offered to Indian developers, said several people aware of the development.

Solar modules or panels account for nearly 60% of a solar power project’s cost. Of China’s solar panel manufacturing capacity, estimated to be around 70 gigawatts (GW) per year, the major markets are the US, India and China itself.

“We were offered these modules at a substantial discount of as low as 25 cents per watt on cost, insurance and freight (c.i.f) basis. It was claimed that these were used A-grade solar panels which were installed at the seller’s plant site for just two months,” said a person requesting anonymity.

In the case of c.i.f deals, the task of shipping the cargo rests with the overseas seller because it is part of the supply contract. This particular offer offered a substantive discount given that solar panel prices are currently around 33 cents per watt. Any price fluctuation in Chinese equipment cost has a significant impact on the Indian clean energy tariff given that most developers here have been sourcing modules from countries such as China, where they are cheaper.

“To top it a one-year warranty was promised,” added the person quoted above.

“Yes, we have heard of this type of imports happening which are primarily used in the unorganized sector. It is important that the government control such imports to avoid giving a bad name to the sector at large,” said Hero Future Energies chief executive officer (CEO) Sunil Jain.

The Indian government came up with stringent quality norms last month for solar equipment to be sold in the country while making the destruction of sub-standard equipment mandatory.Source:


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