India is not yet capable of capturing vacated Chinese solar manufacturing space: ReneSola

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ReneSola is one of the Chinese PV makers that have succeeded in establishing strong footprint in India since its arrival in the country only a couple of years ago. The company sees great opportunity in Indian renewable energy market and now aims to grab 10 percent of Indian solar projects. Renesola also plans to expand product portfolio from Modules to Inverters, small storage systems and LED based products targeting rural markets.

Greentech Lead recently had an interaction with Surendra Kumar Mishra, general manager, ReneSola India, to discuss the company’s plans in India as well as the key issues faced by Chinese manufacturers. Our exchange follows:

Surendra Kumar Mishra, general manager, ReneSola India

When did ReneSola start business in India? What changes have happened to the market since then?
We started introducing our products to India in early 2010-11, during the time when many people do not have any idea about solar subject. With having no reference in India, we found great difficulty in persuading clients to procure our product. We were able to break this jinx in 2012, when some clients found our product generating very well in other countries like USA and Europe. Since then, it has been going very good for ReneSola in India. The hard work we did in 2011-12, paved the way to gain our market share to a very satisfying numbers.

How is Indian solar industry evolving?
India has made considerable progress in solar PV project development, slowly but steadily industry in India is evolving. Many reports claim that India is near to the grid parity wherein Germany takes 30Gw of Installation to reach such stage. India is evolving carefully by learning lesions from rest of solar booming countries, although, Manufacturing is still in initial stage.

Are Chinese providers safe in India? Are you facing competition from local manufacturers? Explain.
Yes, we are safe in India. Renesola being a Tier 1 vertically integrated manufacturer with local presence able to provide high quality product economically. It enables us to have an upper hand in
Indian market.

There’s a growing concern about the quality of Chinese panels. How do you win customers in this regard?
We are fortunate to have a unique advantage point on solar panel quality. Most of the customers visited our manufacturing hubs and were extremely satisfied with our in- bound and out- bound quality controls. Our experienced team enables us to screen for potential quality problems.

How do you ensure tech support and post-sales service for solar panels to customers?
We have established a comprehensive network of assistance and support measures for our customers. They range from regular training to engineers to toll free call centre for fast and non-bureaucratic handling of warranty claims.

What is Renesola’s key strategy to win customers in India?
Similar to Chinese customers, Indian consumers demand sophisticated products and services found in the West, but at lower prices. We are answering all three aspects to win Indian customers with our extensive R & D and local presence and partners.

What are the immediate expansion plans for Renesola in India?
Considering the high growing demand of the solar power in the Indian market in next 3 years, Renesola plans to expand product portfolio from Modules to Inverters, small storage systems and LED based products targeting rural markets.

What is your view on the ongoing import tax debate happening in India, EU and the U.S against Chinese products?
As in the case of any dumping dispute, reactions vary between the affected units bemoaning loss of competitiveness, profitability and jobs and those of consumers and producers benefiting from the lower priced imports; given the modern distributed production chains across countries, import content of exports is about 40 percent today while the share of intermediate goods in trade has risen to 50-60 percent of global merchandise trade. Furthermore, research on average efficiency and costs in the US/European solar manufacturing vis-à-vis production in Chinese facilities do indicate that about 18-30 percent of the price advantage in Chinese solar cells do emanate from cost efficiency of vertical integration, economies of scale, and negotiated discounts from vendors of intermediate inputs, and machinery and equipment. These are in addition to the advantages from the lower Chinese labor costs and cheap trade credit availability.  Several analysts have bridged India into the picture by arguing that India will be beneficiary as anti-dumping duties on Chinese manufacturers will lead India to become an “alternative manufacturing destination” for companies. The expected gains for India are however contestable, as India’s ability to capture vacated Chinese manufacturing space is a function of ease of doing business in the country, physical infrastructure necessary for manufacturing and domestic policy environment, all of which are not yet as amenable for large scale manufacturing processes and units as in China.

Rajani Baburajan

[email protected]

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