Probe to decide dumping duty on solar cells from US, China

Solar panel makers in the country are likely to get some respite with the commerce ministry deciding to proceed with its inquiry into the alleged dumping of solar thin-film and silicon PV cells from China and the US.

The results of the probe are expected over the next week and a decision on imposing penal duties on solar imports will depend on the outcome of the investigations, according to commerce ministry sources.

The commerce ministry has refused to heed the request of the ministry of renewable energy that dumping duties may not be levied on imports from the US and China as it would hamper the country's efforts to boost power generation from alternative sources (See: China, US dumping solar equipment on India).

Investigations will examine whether foreign suppliers of solar thin-film and silicon PV cells are selling these products in India at prices lower that what they charge in their home markets. If the probe proves dumping that hurt local industry, such imports will face anti-dumping duties.

The extent of anti-dumping duties will be based on facts and actual figures.

The directorate general of anti-dumping of the commerce ministry launched anti-dumping investigations into import of PV cells from China, Taiwan, Malaysia and the US in January 2013, following representations from local manufacturers as well as importers, and the findings are expected to be released on 22 May.

Major solar manufacturers, including Tata Power, Moser Baer and Indosolar, have demanded that imposition of anti-dumping duties of up to 30-35 per cent on imported solar thin films and silicon PV cells as these were being sold at ''ridiculously'' low prices in the country to the detriment of local industry.

Domestic manufacturers estimate their combined losses at over Rs1,000 crore, with many shutting shop or performing below capacity as prices fell by over 40 per cent due to competition from cheap imports.

The ministry of renewable energy, on the other hand, stated that any impost of anti-dumping duties would increase the cost of solar power generation in the country by at least Rs1.6 crore per MW. According to the ministry, projects for a total 4,000 MW awarded recently are dependent on imported equipment.

Indian producers, however, see no merit in the argument. They say that they have the necessary capacity and expertise to meet the demand for solar products in the country.

''India has been supplying cells and modules to major countries in Europe, and Japan. Though crippled by dumping, the domestic industry has the resilience to bounce back within 45 days after receiving order confirmation,'' the Indian Solar Manufacturers' Association said in a statement.