PI Berlin Raises Quality Issues with Indian PV Projects

Study finds that “the Indian market is a double-edged sword”

German solar risk management company, PI Berlin, in its latest report, expressed serious concerns about project development in one of the world’s biggest and the cheapest solar market- India.

PI Berlin, which visited six projects, exposed cost-cutting in installation, non-existent warranties, serious safety concerns and improbable performance figures. They added that the race to reduce PV project costs and reverse bidding process has further affected the quality.

PI Berlin released the report on two rooftops and four ground-mounted projects – featuring c-Si and thin film modules, fixed tilt mounting and single-axis trackers. Report points out that the solar modules or panels, the industry’s backbone, are sub-par and many plants across India are flawed in their construction.

In recent years, India has been adding thousands of megawatts of solar power capacity, which has led to record-low tariffs, even lesser than thermal power. In 2017-18 itself, the country added capacity at the fastest pace ever, taking solar capacity to 24.5GW. In fact, with renewables comfortably outstripping non-renewables on the new capacity addition for over a year now, issues of quality could be a slow-motion disaster if not tackled early. As the country becomes more dependent on its renewables capacity. One of the flags raised by analysts has been the apparent support for the polluting but established power setup, which is going through a prolonged struggle now, both in terms of unutilised generation capacity as well as lagging investments in the grid, a factor that has tripped up a few renewable auctions too recently,

With the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) among the organisations backing the study, along with Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, National Institute of Solar Energy and Germany’s KfW Development Bank –the uncomfortable reading of the PI Berlin report’s findings, related to the final commissioning of Indian PV projects, is expected to lead to renewed focus on some of the potential pitfalls.

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