Solar Module Imports Jump by 210% YoY to 10 GW in the First Quarter Before BCD Takes Effect

Developers imported large quantities of modules before BCD imposition


Indian solar developers have procured 9.7 GW of solar modules in the first quarter (Q1) of 2022 and stockpiled them ahead of Basic Customs Duty (BCD) on solar cells and modules, which took effect in April 1. Imports surged by 210% year-over-year compared to 3.13 GW imported in Q1 2021.

Many developers feel domestic module manufacturing capacity is yet to ramp up. They say it will take time for local manufacturing to achieve quality and efficiency compared to imported modules.

The stockpiling is to save on module costs, which increased by 40% once BCD kicked in. The exponential increase in imports of cells and modules was mainly from China. In March alone, the top 20 Indian solar developers imported 4.2 GW of solar modules.

The top five developers accounted for around 38% of the total imports in March. A detailed list of exporters and importers is available by subscribing to Mercom’s India Solar Export-Import Tracker.

Jinko Solar was the top supplier during the quarter. TRINA Solar, JA Solar, LONGi Solar, and Canadian Solar were the other top suppliers.

The average cost of large-scale solar projects in the fourth quarter of 2021 (Q4 2021) was approximately ₹43 million (~$566,008)/MW, according to Mercom’s recently released 2021 Q4 and Annual India Solar Market Update. The average cost increased by 21.6% compared to the same period last year when it was ₹35.3 million (~$488,255)/MW and a 1% rise from the previous quarter when the cost was about ₹4.24 million (~$559,828)/MW.

According to the report, the average selling price (ASP) of polycrystalline modules from China increased by 10% compared to the previous quarter. In contrast, the ASP of Chinese mono PERC modules increased by 1% compared to Q3 2021. The Chinese polycrystalline module ASPs in 2021 recorded the highest rise in recent history, with a 35% increase YoY.

The prices of Chinese modules have increased for seven sequential quarters, a trend that has never been seen in the past ten years. Module prices had only seen an upward trend in just two quarters before the pandemic in the past five years. Solar module manufacturers also believe that prices of Chinese modules are expected to stay high through Q1 2022.

Prices of the Indian modules also increased. The ASP of the Indian polycrystalline modules increased by 3%, and the Indian mono PERC module ASP increased by 1% compared to the previous quarter. Indian modules manufacturers mainly rely on Chinese cells to fabricate their modules. It is to be seen how more expensive Indian modules can get in the light of 25% BCD on Chinese cell imports.

For an in-depth look at the data, analysis, and charts, subscribe to our quarterly market report – Mercom India Solar Update. Detailed solar import and export data by component types, suppliers, manufacturers, and developers are available in Mercom’s India Solar Export-Import Tracker.