India’s Solar Exports Surge by 321% YoY in 2022, Imports Drop by 25%

On a QoQ basis, exports went up by 135% in Q4 from $157 million


India exported solar cells and modules worth $561 million (~₹46.4 billion) in 2022, an increase of 321% year-over-year (YoY) compared to $134 million (~₹11 billion) in 2021.

The United States continued to be India’s largest market for solar exports in 2022.

The exports to the U.S. increased in the second half of 2022 as the country restricted shipments of solar components from China due to concerns over forced labor. The exports in the October-December period alone accounted for nearly 66% of the full-year exports.

Solar imports 2022

India imported solar cells and modules worth $2.6 billion (~₹218.5 billion), a decrease of 25% YoY compared to $3.5 billion (~₹292 billion), according to the Department of Commerce data.

In 2021, the imports were high as the industry had started to recover from the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The resumption of delayed projects also fueled the imports in 2021.

The imposition of Basic Customs Duty (BCD), which came into effect in April 2022, was followed by three consecutive quarters of decline in imports. In the two quarters prior to BCD, imports grew as Indian solar developers stockpiled around 10 GW of solar cells and modules to save on costs.

While BCD was a price barrier for imports, the mandate to enlist under the Approved List of Manufacturers and Models (ALMM) to supply to government-funded projects prohibited imports since Chinese suppliers were not enrolled. The ALMM rule was applicable from April 1, 2022, but open access and net metering projects had exemption until October 2022.

BCD and ALMM together brought imports of solar modules to a standstill.

However, the Power Minister has recently said that the government would suspend ALMM for two years so that the bottleneck of inadequate domestic manufacturing capacity does not impact capacity addition. Once the ALMM mandate is lifted, the imports will be resumed and reflected in the 2023 numbers.

India has set a target of 280 GW of solar capacity by 2030, but the installed capacity as of September 2022 was about 60 GW.

Solar Imports and Exports in Q4 2022

India exported solar cells and modules worth $370 million (~₹ 30.6 billion) in the fourth quarter (Q4), a 16-fold increase YoY compared to $23 million (~₹ 1.9 billion).

On a quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) basis, exports increased 136% from $157 million (~₹12.9 billion).

Import of solar cells and modules during the quarter declined by 73% YoY to $425 million (~₹5.1 million). Solar cells accounted for 93% of these imports.

On a QoQ basis, imports rose by roughly 8% from $394 million (~₹ 32.6 billion).

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