Although module manufacturing capacity in India has increased from less than 60 MW in 2005 to more than 4 GW in 2016, the existence of many module makers have been under threat due to stiff competition from Chinese module suppliers who have been dumping cheap panels in India. While the Chinese imports have helped with the growth of solar installed capacity in India, it has taken a toll on domestic solar manufacturing. Since 2011, some module makers have filed for bankruptcy and some of them operating at low utilization rates.
But could this be a thing of the past? With the NDA government pushing to implement policies that favor solar manufacturing, new and small businesses have been finding an opportunity in module manufacturing. In fact, Solar Mango has been recently witnessing a buzz in the market for setting up module manufacturing units.
In light of this recent activity, Solar Mango reached out to Ecoprogetti, a leading Italian equipment supplier of turnkey module manufacturing lines. Ecoprogetti has been aggressively pursuing the Indian market, where the landscape for solar investments is getting ever attractive.
Founded in 1998 as a machine manufacturer for the photovoltaic industry, Ecoprogetti has its roots as a module manufacturing company, that started production in 1994. Having such a background, Ecoprogetti knows what it’s like to be in their customer’s shoes which makes them well-equipped to handle any on-site maintenance support.
Already having set up numerous PV module manufacturing lines all around the world, Ecoprogetti is making rapid strides in India. In fact, as of today, Ecoprogetti’s module equipments account for close to 70% of module manufacturing installations in India. Ecoprogetti offers a complete range of turnkey solutions for PV module manufacturing in the capacity range of 10 MW to 150 MW.
Here is a short excerpt from Solar Mango’s interview of the Managing Director at Ecoprogetti, Mr. Rajen Shah.
Solar Mango: What do you perceive of the Indian module manufacturing market and what kind of future do you expect for it?
Rajen Shah: Well, the Indian market is growing at a good pace. In fact, the module manufacturing is currently growing at a rate of 200%. With the government being very supportive with its DCR policy for cells and modules, I expect a bright future for solar manufacturing in India.
SM: What are the challenges Ecoprogetti has faced in its journey to penetrate the Indian market?
RS: The Indian market is difficult to compete mainly because it is price sensitive. In this context, I should also mention that the competition from Chinese players is very high. Despite the challenges, we have been performing very well in India. In fact, we have close to 70% of the total market share.
We have a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Italy and we ensure that quality of oir products above anything else.
SM: How long does it take Ecoprogetti to commission a solar module line and what kind of warranties do you offer?
RS: From the time of placement of order, it typically takes 4-4.5 months to complete the commissioning of the plant (inclusive of shipping). And Ecoprogetti provides a 12-month warranty on the equipments.
SM: What kind of testing procedures do you offer as part of your turnkey module line solutions?
RS: There are quality tests during every stage of the production process starting from cell checking and stringing to lamination and framing of modules. Some of the tests include Hipot test for checking the electrical insulation of the modules, IV test to evaluate the current-voltage characteristics, EL testing, PID testing among others. The tests ensure the long life and quality of the solar modules.
Apart from this, certification from relevant agencies such as DNV GL, TUV etc., are also carried out.
SM: What are the incentives currently available for module manufacturing in India?
RS: Currently there are two forms of incentives available for module manufacturing. First is the Modified Special Incentives Package Scheme (M-SIPS) which offers 25% subsidy on capital expenditure for module manufacturing companies. Secondly, some state governments provide some incentives in the form of low interest rate loans as well as cheap land. For example, states such as MP and Chhattisgarh provide lower interest financing for setting up module manufacturing units.
SM: What kind of training programs do you provide to the client personnel?
RS: We at Ecoprogetti provide two types of training. Prior to shipping of the equipment from the factory, the customers are provided classroom training at a training center in Italy. Here, experts in the field provide information regarding equipments, processes and how to handle raw materials.
In addition to this, Ecoprogetti engineers train the client personnel at the module facility during the installation process. Ecoprogetti gives high importance to training and have service engineers located at various locations in India including Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Bangalore, to cater to customer needs. The service engineers undergo training which may even include out-of-country programs to keep updated with latest technology.
SM: What are your recommendations for new businesses that venture into solar module manufacturing?
RS: I feel that it is a promising time to enter this business. I suggest that customers should look at the quality while choosing the manufacturing equipments for their facilities and keep in mind that the capital costs does not have a significant impact on the price.