Indian Solar Imports Surge by 148% YoY in Q1 2024

The U.S. accounted for 99% of solar exports from India

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India imported solar cells and modules totaling over $2 billion (~₹167 billion) in the first quarter (Q1) of the calendar year 2024, up 147.5% year-over-year (YoY), according to data from the Department of Commerce.

Solar cells accounted for 21% of the quarter’s imports, and solar modules 79%.

Module and cell imports fell 2.1% quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) from $2.05 billion (~₹170.9 billion).

In March 2023, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) held the implementation of the Approved List of Models and Manufacturers (ALMM) in abeyance for all large-scale, rooftop, and solar open access projects commissioned until March 31, 2024. This allowed developers to procure solar modules from manufacturers not included in the ALMM list. As the deadline approached, the developers accelerated their cell and module procurement to ensure timely project commissioning, with module imports totaling over 11 GW in Q1 2024, the highest to date in a quarter.

In Q1 2024, China accounted for 73% of India’s solar imports compared to 69% in Q4 2023. Imports from China totaled $1.5 billion (~₹121.8 billion), representing a 3.6% QoQ growth.

Vietnam was second with 13.5%, followed by Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and Hong Kong with 3.5%, 3.3%, 3.1%, and 2.5%, respectively.

EXIM-1

Exports

India exported solar cells and modules worth $666.8 million (~₹55.4 billion) during the quarter, up 39.2% YoY.

On a quarter-over-quarter basis, exports rose 91% from $349.4 million (~₹29 billion).

During January-March, the U.S. remained the top destination for solar exports from India, accounting for 99.1% of the overall exports. According to the data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), large-scale solar projects totaling 36.4 GW are scheduled for commissioning in the country in 2024, leading to an increased demand and imports of solar modules.

Solar module and cell shipments to the U.S. were up 102.3% QoQ.

Thailand, Canada, Italy, and Tanzania accounted for 0.2%, 0.1%, 0.1%, and 0.1% of the total exports, respectively.

Solar Imports in FY24

In the financial year 2023-24 (FY24), solar cell and module imports totaled $6.2 billion (~₹515.6 billion), up 178.5% YoY compared to $2.2 billion (~₹179.2 billion). The suspension of ALMM and the sharp drop in Chinese cell and module prices were the primary drivers of the higher imports. Solar modules accounted for 70.1% of the total imports in FY24 and 97.3% of the exports. Solar cells accounted for the rest of the imports and exports in the financial year.

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About 32% of the solar cells and modules imports in FY24 came in the final quarter (January-March).

Solar module imports in FY24 totaled 26 GW, of which nearly 15 GW were imported between April and December 2023, which supported the commissioning of over 10 GW of solar projects in Q1 2024, according to Mercom’s Q1 2024 India Solar Market Update report.

Detailed solar import and export data by component types, suppliers, manufacturers, and developers are available in Mercom’s India Solar EXIM Tracker.

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