India to Close Sourcing Loophole Ahead of Next Solar Auction

As prices for solar energy continue to drop and reach grid parity in some regions, the ongoing battle over domestic sourcing of materials continues to grow. Ahead of the next round of auctions in India under the Jawaharlal Nehru Solar Mission, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy recently announced that approximately 300 megawatts of the 750 megawatts capacity to be auctioned will be required to use locally made solar cells and panels.

The domestic content requirement in the next round of auctions will include thin-film photovoltaic devices. In prior auctions, the domestic content requirement did not apply to thin-film technology.

Including thin-film technology into the domestic content requirement may be another jab at the United States, which has previously asked the WTO for dispute consultations regarding India’s domestic content requirement for solar.

Just last week, Indian authorities countered US complaints by bringing forth examples where American states have mandated domestic sourcing – namely, water utilities in South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia requiring domestic sourcing of ductile iron pipes and fittings for use in water projects. India has also raised concerns over local content requirements in renewable energy programs in Michigan, California, and Texas.

This latest round of battles over domestic content requirements will surely not be the last as countries move to protect and encourage domestic solar manufacturing operations.

Walter Wang is Managing Editor of CleanTechies. Follow Walter on Twitter: @energytaxprof

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