Manufacturers Need Extension for ALMM as Solar Industry Copes with Coronavirus

BIS Certification hassles and harsh fees structures are also major setbacks


The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s (MNRE) decision to mandate the implementation of the approved list of models and manufacturers (ALMM) for government projects starting March 31, 2020, may not be feasible, say several solar module manufacturers.

The industry has written to the MNRE asking for the implementation of ALMM to be extended to at least June 30, 2021, citing the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, among other issues.

Since a single model of a module has a range of power wattage, the ALMM application form provides for specifying both the mean wattage and the applicable range of wattage. However, such a range of wattage may vary from among manufacturers based on the method used by them for categorizing the model. The clarification states that all the modules based on the same technology (monocrystalline, multi-crystalline, mono-PERC, bifacial, half-cut, and others) and having the same number of cells and having power ratings within ±5% of the mean wattage will be treated as one model.

Manufacturers are unhappy with these conditions and have started to back out of the ALMM process. Mercom believes that the fee structure does not seem fair in its current form and must be further reviewed to encourage innovation and new technologies.

 “The solar industry in India has come to a standstill with the coronavirus pandemic making it impossible to work or travel. Implementing ALMM amidst COVID-19 does not seem fair, not to mention the harsh fee structure when the industry is struggling. The ALMM implementation date should be moved to the end of the year to give the industry the chance to stand on its feet again,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group.

In October 2018, Mercom reported that the MNRE issued an order to enlist eligible models and manufacturers of solar modules and published a list called the ‘Approved List of Models and Manufacturers’ to monitor the quality of components being used in government-owned solar projects.

The ministry had said that after March 31, 2020, only those models and manufacturers that are included in ALMM lists of solar PV cells and modules would be eligible to use in government or government-assisted projects or projects under government programs.

The order also applies to projects which are set up for the sale of electricity to the government. However, all those projects for which bids have been finalized before the issuance of the ALMM order dated January 2, 2019, will be exempted from the mandatory requirement of procurement of cells and modules enlisted in the ALMM order.

Mercom previously analyzed how the standardization and quality control measures for cell and module technology to maintain the quality of products being deployed have affected the solar sector. Find out more about it here.

The Coronavirus pandemic is proving to be the solar industry’s biggest challenge this year, and the repercussions are being felt across industries all over the globe. Track the latest developments and initiatives taken by the government to fight the economic repercussions of the pandemic in the renewable industry here.