India’s Solar Imports Declined by 40% in Q1 2019

China continued to be the largest supplier of solar components to India.


India’s solar imports witnessed significant decline year-over-year (YOY) in the first quarter (Q1) of the calendar year (CY) 2019, according to the latest trade data.

Solar modules and cells of approximately $650 million (~₹45 billion) were imported by India in Q1 2019. This was a decrease of 40% YOY from the $1.1 billion (~₹76 billion) worth of solar cells and modules imported in Q1 of 2018.

Over 1.7 GW of solar PV capacity was installed in India during the first final quarter of FY 2018-19, according to Mercom’s Q1 2019 India Solar Market Quarterly Update.

In the same period, India exported solar modules and cells worth $33 million (~₹2.3 billion) in Q1 2019, an increase of 74% compared to $19 million (~₹1.3 billion) of exports in the same quarter of the previous year.

India Solar Cell and Module Quarterly Import-Export Activity ($M)

Solar Imports

China was again the largest exporter of solar modules and cells to India, accounting for approximately $523 million (~₹37 billion) of total solar imports. This was down by 47% compared to $991 million (~₹69 billion) of solar imports to India in Q1 2018. The share of Chinese solar imports declined from 91.5% in Q1 of 2018 to 80.5% in Q1 2019. The decline is primarily due to the imposition of 25% safeguard duty by the Indian government on solar imports from China and Malaysia.

Vietnam accounted for 6.7% of India’s imports of solar cells and modules in Q1 2019, totaling $40 million (~₹2.7 billion), making it the second largest solar exporter to India.

Singapore was the third largest exporter to India, accounting for a 6.1% share, a huge increase from the 0.5% market share recorded in Q1 2018.

Hong Kong and Thailand were the other exporters of solar modules and cells to India in Q1 2019.

Impact of Safeguard Duty Imposition on Imports

Taiwan, which was the second largest exporter of solar to India in Q1 2018, accounted for just 0.28% in Q1 2019. This was a sharp decline of 96% YoY from the 4.4% share of imports in Q1 2018.

Malaysia accounted for 0.25% of India’s total solar imports, a decrease of 88% from the 1.2% share in the same period the previous year. China, with 80.5% market share in Q1 2019, saw a decline of 47% when compared to Q1 2018. Meanwhile, the exports from Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Singapore recorded significant growth in Q1 2019 compared to Q1 2018.

Change in Solar Imports by Select Countries from Q1 2018 to Q1 2019

Solar Exports

In Q1 2019, $21 million (~₹1.47 billion) worth of solar cells and modules were exported from India to Vietnam.

In Q1 2019, the United States accounted for 15.4% of all solar modules and cells exported from India, up by 90% compared to the same period in 2018. Though the export quantity was small, the year-over-year increase was substantial.

However, the U.S administration recently decided to terminate India’s designation as a beneficiary developing country effective June 5, 2019. This will impact manufacturers who were banking on growing exports to the United States.

The UAE accounted for 3.7% of exports, followed closely by South Africa at 3.4%. Belgium and Nigeria accounted for 2.5% and 1.9% respectively.

Detailed solar component data is available through Mercom’s India Solar EXIM Tracker.

is a Research Associate at Mercom India. Prior to Mercom, Pratheeksha was an Associate Analyst at GlobalData where she authored and published syndicated research reports in the power generation industry. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Electrical & Electronics from PESITM and Master’s degree in Electrical Power Systems from the Adichunchanagiri Institute of Technology at VTU University.