In recent years, India has exponentially increased its solar capacity, which in turn has led to a drastic fall in the prices of solar components. So much so that solar power has now become cheaper than thermal power! This may appear to be good news to some, but delve into the details of the industry and you will be able to identify the uncomfortable truth behind this solar boom – poor quality.

The trend that has prevailed in India is that of importing PV modules from China, Malaysia, or Taiwan, due to low prices. But low prices come with low quality, which hinders the solar market considerably. With PM Narendra Modi’s Make in India campaign, India is working towards developing a dynamic manufacturing market in the solar sector. But the real question we face today is whether the quality of the locally manufactured products meets the required standards. Unfortunately, the answer is not in the affirmative.

This can predominantly be attributed to the inherent attitude amongst Indians to seek the lowest prices rather than the best quality. The bidding process in solar tenders introduced by the Indian government favors lowest bidders. This has made solar EPC companies work at shoestring margins. In order to increase their profitability, they are finding avenues to cut costs, thereby providing low-quality products. China’s TopRunner policy that prioritizes new technology and efficiency over price should set a strong example to India, which is too focused on low tariffs.

The drive towards cutting costs has also led to EPC companies not offering adequate maintenance of the systems installed by them. In addition, the panel structures provided are of low quality and more often than not designed inefficiently. This has led to the systems’ inability to withstand the harsh weather conditions that prevail in India.

The solar boom has lured many individuals and companies towards the solar business. But without adequate knowledge and technical knowhow, providing quality service is next to impossible. Some of the key factors essential to proper installation of solar panels that are most commonly missed by EPC providers/installers include, near and far shadow analysis, access to solar radiation, height of the building, terrain, extreme weather conditions, etc.  A number of parameters are likely to be variable from one site to another even in the same geographical area and therefore it is crucial to plan a solar PV project to suit the site parameters, the knowledge of which can only come through experience and technical excellence, which majority of the EPS providers in India lack.

The trend that has prevailed in India is that of importing PV modules from China, Malaysia, or Taiwan, due to low prices. But low prices come with low quality, which hinders the solar market considerably. With PM Narendra Modi’s Make in India campaign, India is working towards developing a dynamic manufacturing market in the solar sector. But the real question we face today is whether the quality of the locally manufactured products meets the required standards. Unfortunately, the answer is not in the affirmative.

This can predominantly be attributed to the inherent attitude amongst Indians to seek the lowest prices rather than the best quality. The bidding process in solar tenders introduced by the Indian government favors lowest bidders. This has made solar EPC companies work at shoestring margins. In order to increase their profitability, they are finding avenues to cut costs, thereby providing low-quality products. China’s TopRunner policy that prioritizes new technology and efficiency over price should set a strong example to India, which is too focused on low tariffs.

The drive towards cutting costs has also led to EPC companies not offering adequate maintenance of the systems installed by them. In addition, the panel structures provided are of low quality and more often than not designed inefficiently. This has led to the systems’ inability to withstand the harsh weather conditions that prevail in India.

The solar boom has lured many individuals and companies towards the solar business. But without adequate knowledge and technical knowhow, providing quality service is next to impossible. Some of the key factors essential to proper installation of solar panels that are most commonly missed by EPC providers/installers include, near and far shadow analysis, access to solar radiation, height of the building, terrain, extreme weather conditions, etc.  A number of parameters are likely to be variable from one site to another even in the same geographical area and therefore it is crucial to plan a solar PV project to suit the site parameters, the knowledge of which can only come through experience and technical excellence, which majority of the EPS providers in India lack.

The Government of India has set up a target for 40 GW of solar power from rooftop installations by 2022. However, as reported by MNRE, a cumulative capacity of only 1.35GW has been achieved until 31st December 2018. In this desperate attempt to meet targets along with factors such as strong price pressure, inexperience and lack of awareness about the sector and its risks, extreme climatic conditions, and lowest bidder requirements from the government, quality in the solar market has taken a great hit.

We at Nimbus strive towards excellence in quality and hope that in India’s future, highest quality holds a higher place than the lowest bidder.