Centre notifies new standards for solar equipment

With the domestic solar industry facing the heat from cheap imports and steeply falling tariffs, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has drafted a new set of norms and standards for all solar equipment – domestic as well as imported. 

The move will help the government keep a check on the quality of upcoming solar projects, given that the power purchase agreements (PPAs) are signed and tariffs set for 25 years.

Domestic solar manufacturers have been up in arms against the imports, especially from China. Their contention is that the steeply low tariffs are a result of cheap imported solar equipment, whose quality is questionable.

Business Standard recently reported that the government was deciding standards for solar panels, which, in turn, would also help it identify approved suppliers. 

The MNRE has listed six standards for different equipment, including solar panels and batteries, used in solar power projects. The standards are designed under the Bureau of Indian Standards Act and would be governed under the same. The standards would be enforced after 12 months.

“No person shall by himself or through any person on his behalf manufacture or store for sale, import, sell or distribute goods which do not conform to the specified standard and do not bear the standard mark as notified by the Bureau for such goods from time to time after obtaining registration from the Bureau,” said the notice reviewed by the paper.

Reacting to the development, Ratul Puri, chairman, Hindustan Power, said, “As the government has provided 12 months’ time before the Act is applicable, players can work to achieve the standards in a sustainable way. This is a good move that will counter low-quality imports and will be extremely useful in the distributed and rooftop segment where the end-user is technically not sophisticated.”

The ministry would also set up labs for testing the equipment. Industry executives, however, pointed out that this would lead to an increase in prices and more hassles as all suppliers would need to get certified in India, which had limited testing facilities.

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