Approved List of Module Manufacturers (ALMM) in India and its benefits to the Indian module manufacturers
India is a rapidly growing market for solar energy, and with the government’s ambitious goal of achieving 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, it is essential that the solar modules used in the country meet certain quality standards. The Indian government has taken several steps to ensure the quality of solar modules, and one of the initiatives taken in this regard is the Approved List of Module Manufacturers (ALMM).
The ALMM was introduced by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in 2019, and it requires all manufacturers who wish to participate in government-backed projects for solar PV installation to enlist themselves in the list. The primary objective of ALMM is to ensure that the solar modules used in India are of good quality and meet certain standards.
To be approved for ALMM, each model of the manufacturer’s module (or cell) would have to be separately applied for, and the cost for the first model would be INR 5000/MW (USD 67/MW), and INR 50/MW (USD 0.67/MW) for subsequent models. The registration process would also require the manufacturing entities to share information about their purchase of raw materials, sales records, any history of contractual violations with the customers, detailed balance sheets, etc. A manufacturing site inspection would also be mandatory, and the charges for a site inspection would depend on the location of the manufacturing site and the installed capacity.
The ALMM approval is valid for two years, and recently MNRE has made it mandatory that only ALMM approved modules would be eligible for all open-access and net-metering projects, in addition to the original government-backed projects.
The ALMM has been successful in ensuring that the solar modules used in India meet certain quality standards. However, it should be noted that non-SAARC manufacturers would pay more than Indian manufacturers for site inspections. This could be seen as a protectionist measure by the Indian government to promote local manufacturers.
Semiconductor Policy in India
In December 2021, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) announced an ambitious policy to energize the “Semiconductors and Display Fab” sector in India, and allocated INR 76,000 crore (USD 10 billion) for this. This policy envisages setting up of silicon, GaN and display fabs, as well as packaging units, and providing up-front capex incentives ranging from 30 to 50%. Although this policy does not directly include solar PV, it is evident that there will be good synergy to build up a sustainable silicon ecosystem.
The R&D activities in the broad area of semiconductors, already quite robust in India, are also likely to get a significant boost due to these twin initiatives. This would not only benefit the semiconductor industry in India but also the solar industry, as there is a need for high-quality silicon wafers for the production of solar cells.
The Approved List of Module Manufacturers (ALMM) is an essential step taken by the Indian government to ensure the quality of solar modules used in the country. The recent Semiconductor Policy by MeitY is also likely to have a positive impact on the solar industry in India, as it would lead to the development of a sustainable silicon ecosystem.
However, it is essential to ensure that protectionist measures are not taken that could harm the industry’s growth in the long run. The government should aim to strike a balance between protecting local manufacturers and promoting healthy competition in the market. With the right policies and initiatives, the Indian solar industry has the potential to become a global leader in the coming years.