Deepak Puri is Chairman and Managing Director of Moser Baer, one of India's leading technology companies. Under his leadership, Moser Baer--which is one of the world's top three manufacturers of optical storage media--diversified into solar, thermal and hydro energy. Puri is also the Chairman of the Renewable Energy Committee of Confederation of Indian Industry.
1. What policy steps are needed for India to address its growing domestic energy demands, and what potential is there for renewable energy to contribute more to the grid?
The 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17) of India targets a capacity addition of over 80,000MW, out of which the contribution of renewable energy is seen to be over 27,000MW (33.75 percent). Due to coal shortage in the country, regulatory uncertainty over tariffs for imported coal-based projects and abundant renewable energy potential, the switch to renewable energy has become more aggressive. India is focusing on increasing its renewable energy capacity to over 54,000MW by 2017 and hence increasing the contribution of renewable energy to the energy mix from 12 percent at present to 18 percent. However, mere capacity addition plans alone will not suffice. The gigantic task of strengthening the grid also needs to be done in parallel, with focus on enabling the increased contribution from renewable energy. The transmission and distribution systems in the country need to be able to facilitate the increased capacity addition of intermittent renewable energy, also allowing for cheaper transmission charges, inter- and intra-state open access and banking facilities, net metering, etc.
The higher contribution of renewable energy can be expected to come in during the 13th Five-Year Plan as the strong transmission and distribution grid shall be in place and progressive developments in renewable energy generation both in terms of technology and costs shall bring renewable energy sources to grid parity.
2. Moser Baer has invested significantly in several renewable energy technologies, such as solar, hydro and thermal. Which technology do you think holds the most promise at this point in time in terms of helping India achieve greater energy security?
I represent Moser Baer India as its Managing Director where we also manufacture solar PV modules. However, it is Moser Baer Projects which is a different company, which is into developing solar farms and setting up hydro and thermal plants. Considering India's present energy scenario, a base deficit of 9 percent and a peak deficit of 11 percent, it becomes very important to have increased generation to meet base loads. To my mind, at present, thermal power generation in the country may be the best bet to meet the nation's energy needs, while hydro power may be used to balance the base and peak loads. But for long-term energy security, renewable energy sources are the way forward, keeping in view the severity of climate change concerns.
3. The global solar industry has faced challenges in the form of trade wars and depressed panel prices. What is Moser Baer's outlook for the solar industry globally and within India for the next five years and what challenges need to be overcome?
The major challenges faced by the industry today are: 1) Lack of a level playing field for manufacturers in India vis-a-vis competition from certain non-market economies, where we are virtually competing with the country and not companies. 2) Two pieces which need to be included in the domestic content regulation of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM)--Inclusion of all technologies in the domestic content requirement; and making guidelines for all state policies consistent with the central mission.
Recently, with the initiation of an anti-dumping investigation in India, we are hopeful that the dumping margins will significantly come down and remedial measures will be undertaken to ameliorate the injury caused to the domestic industry by massive dumping of products in a relatively short time. In May, the US announced a preliminary decision to levy anti-dumping duties of up to 250 percent on panels imported from China. The European Commission said recently that it will open an anti-dumping probe into Chinese PV exports. However, we welcome foreign players to establish manufacturing bases in India, which will give fillip to employment generation, exchange of technology and growth in R&D as well as the manufacturing ecosystem.
It is notable that overreliance on Chinese imports has not only killed local solar manufacturers, but also stopped innovation while offering customised tailor-made local solar solutions for the masses. The only long-term option available to enhance national productivity is by promoting local manufacturing and adopting a cluster-based approach. The solar specific cluster would allow for relevant suppliers of raw materials, ancillary industries, the service industry, technical manpower and financing institutions, etc., in the vicinity within the same cluster and promote inter-dependence and competition simultaneously.
Recreated from original blog post authored by Nilesh Y. Jadhav at Solarika.org