India to Ramp Up Solar Manufacturing and Hydrogen Generation, Says RK Singh

The ministry also plans to push the demand for battery storage


At a recent virtual conference held by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Union Power Minister R.K. Singh said that the government was planning to develop 3 GW (each) of solar module and cell manufacturing capacity in the country.

Singh stressed that India needs to develop its manufacturing capabilities to become self-reliant in the renewables space. The ministry acknowledged that the solar sector was still dependent on imports from other countries to meet its demands. Currently, India imports nearly $3 billion worth of solar cells and modules.

Previously, Mercom reported that for the financial year 2019-20, the import of solar cells and modules totaled $1.7 billion (~₹128 billion), a decrease of 22% year-over-year (YoY). However, the exports rose by 76% YoY at $213 million (~₹16 billion). In FY 2019-20, Indian solar imports accounted for 77.5% from China, followed by Vietnam with 8.4%, Thailand with 7.2%, Singapore, and Hong Kong with 1.9% each, respectively.

Singh also said that the government was thinking of coming up with a plan to invite bids for an innovative program that would involve generating solar power, which would then be used to generate hydrogen. The hydrogen produced would then power a city’s public transport. He noted that the only requirement of the bid would be that the per kilometer cost of the transportation should be less than diesel-driven buses.

“We will start with hydrogen for one city and battery for the other city. In the first one, hydrogen will be used to run the city’s public transport, and in the other city, we will use batteries. Then we’ll see which one is cheaper,” the minister added.

Singh also noted that the ministry was planning to come out with new projects with battery storage capacity, which is gradually going to increase the demand for battery storage in the country.

“The transition from imported fossil fuels to renewable energy is taking place, and it will take some time. It is not going to happen in haste. We must have patience and should go about slowly in making this transition, which is going to define our future,” the minister underlined.

Recently, the Union Power Minister also said that the government is likely to consider extending the interstate transmission system (ISTS) charges for renewable projects by at least six months. The minister was speaking during the CEO’s interactive session organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

In a Mercom webinar held in April, the former secretary of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Anand Kumar, had said that the MNRE was planning to promote domestic solar manufacturing capacity. He noted that ministry not only has plans to develop solar components like cells, modules, ingots, and wafers but to venture into manufacturing ancillary equipment like back sheets, inverters, transformers, among others.