SEMI India Projects Bright Prospects for Indian Solar PV Industry

05 June 2009 by

The energy sector holds the key in accelerating the economic growth of India. The country’s rising energy needs, proportional to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth Overdependence on coal for electricity generation, more than 70% imports of oil and gas and unrelenting energy deficit situation makes it imperative to employ renewable energy technologies.


The abundant near 300 sunlight days makes Solar Photovoltaic (PV) generation attractive to the country’s energy strategy. Besides the reservoir of brain dexterity has brought India to the brink of becoming a global leader in adoption and manufacturing of PV technology. The average growth rate of PV manufacturing in India is 35% in the past 3 years.












Total PV Cell Capacity Manufactured in MW










Total PV Module Capacity Manufactured in MW











As per media reports, the Union Government has finalised the draft for the National Solar Mission. It aims to make India a global leader in solar energy and envisages an installed solar generation capacity of 20,000 MW by 2020, of 1,00,000 MW by 2030 and of 2,00,000 MW by 2050.

In December 2008 SEMI PV Group (, the global industry association serving the manufacturing supply chains for the microelectronic, display and photovoltaic industries formed SEMI India PV Advisory Committee comprised of executives from major Solar cell, Solar module, equipment and materials manufacturers like Signet Solar; Applied Materials; Solar Semiconductor; Moser Baer Photo Voltaic Ltd.; Reliance Industries Ltd.; Titan Energy Systems Pvt. Ltd.; Orion Solar (I) Ltd. and Tata BP Solar India Ltd. Semi India PV released its first paper

As per industry experts this is the first paper of its kind, presenting the Industry view of the transformational potential of PV in India, highlighting challenges and making a call for action. The paper highlights the key areas in India where PV needs to be pursued established on factual requirements. The key PV applications identified are:


  • Basic Off-grid Lighting and Electrification Systems
  • Irrigation Pumps
  • Power Back-Up for Cellular Towers
  • Captive Power Generation
  • Urban Applications and Highway Lighting
  • Grid Connected PV Generation


A collaborative effort between the Government, industry, academia and other stakeholders, can result in the creation and execution of a shared vision for PV, with benefits across multiple dimensions. If the recommendations are pursued with vigour, India, with its combination of market, industrial and research infrastructure and advantageous geographical location, could well write the future and lead the world in solar PV.


As per SEMI India PV, the impending challenges facing the growth and development of PV in India that needs immediate attention includes the need for:


  1. Closer industry-government cooperation - for the technology to achieve scale
  2. Common industry standards like railways, telecom, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, etc.
  3. Focused, collaborative and goals driven R&D - to help India attain technology 
  4. Leadership in PV
  5. Financing infrastructure, models and arrangements - to spur the PV industry and consumption of PV products
  6. Training and development of human Resources - to drive industry growth and PV adoption
  7. Build consumer awareness - about the economics and right usage
  8. Regular calendar of PV technical conferences and workshops to share and diffuse new findings, best practices, technical problem resolutions and to pave the way for collaborative work in the industry


The paper also identifies that rural PV electrification is crucial to electrification of rural areas and could enjoy higher quality of life. About 450 million people in India rely on kerosene to fulfil their lighting needs. Considering the lower income levels kerosene continues to be highly subsidised and is creating burden on the government as it is imported. Kerosene subsidy is about INR 2,000 billion and this fund could be used to support the upfront 10% cost of INR 15,000/- of Solar Home Systems (SHS) and can support every year nearly 130 million of families. Based on real needs and benefits, there is enormous potential for off-grid PV deployment in India for lighting irrigation pump sets. Off-grid rural PV electrification in India can become the role model for the world.


Similarly PV can be useful offset the estimated 9 million diesel and 12 million electric irrigation pumps of 5 hp capacity thus creating an opportunity for mammoth PV manufacturing capacity of 80,000 MW.


Case study of Rural Economy transformation

In 2006 The Aryavart Gramin Bank in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh faced severe power shortages in rural areas and needed reliable back up power to run its computerized branches. The bank installed PV systems that charged the batteries which in turn operated the computers. Buoyed by this the Bank encouraged its Kisan Credit Card customers by financing SHS that can provide lighting between 4-8 hours besides also supports a mobile phone charger, a DC fan and/or a basic television.


Under this a system costing INR 13,500 can be bought by paying upfront 20% and the balance in 5 years in monthly instalments @ 12% p.a. The monthly expenditure on the SHS is lower than that for kerosene, which amounts to INR 280  for average rural household use.


Estimates suggest that 100,000 jobs in PV can be created by 2020 right across the value chain – from specialized high paying, high-technology sector employment in R&D, to employment for manufacturing workers, technicians, construction workers, and installers and in field maintenance.


To address these challenges, the paper offers recommendations and a call for action including:


  • The creation of a common Government-industry vision to establish India as a PV world leader
  • Development of effective financing infrastructure and models that will motivate large-scale PV adoption and investments in the PV industry
  • Expanding the deployment of PV in off-grid applications
  • Expanding grid-connected PV generation on a large scale.


SEMI India intends to follow up on the recommendations and calls for action highlighted in this paper in order to convert them into meaningful action plans.