Thin Film modules lose considerable market share in 2014 in India

According to BRIDGE TO INDIA’s latest publication, the India Solar Map 2014 (download here), only about 4% of the capacity installed in 2014 (until August 2014) in India has used thin-film modules. This accounts for 18 MW of the 446 MW installed until now (depicted in the figure below).

  • During 2011-13, the market share of thin film modules in India was significantly higher than the global average. This trend has completely reversed in 2014: 18 MW is extremely weak
  • However, First Solar is expected to supply modules to more than 100 MW of solar projects in the succeeding months
  • Very large individual projects or customers, such as the National Thermal Power Corporation of India (NTPC), which wants to build 3,000 MW of solar in the next five years, will have a huge effect on future market shares

When compared globally, the thin film market share in India during 2011-13 has been significantly higher than the global average (which is about 10%), with First Solar leading as the leading module suppliers in the country. However, First Solar seems to have lost considerable ground in the last three quarters, with only 12 MW installed in India.

Share of Thin Film and Crystalline Modules, (%)


Source: Bridge To India analysis

The high initial market share captured by thin-film modules in India can partially be attributed to policy distortions in favour of non-crystalline module imports and competitive financing solutions available for imports from the US (read: thin-film). This advantage seems to have weaned off.

In contrast to thin films 18 MW, crystalline modules added about 428 MW in 2014, of which more than 45% came from Chinese module suppliers and 35% from Indian suppliers. The share of Indian manufacturers has increased significantly compared to preceding years, mainly because of the demand from state-run companies such as NTPC or Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd., which often choose domestic modules for their projects. NTPC alone is expected to build 3,000 MW of solar in the next five years in India. The company plans to announce an auction for the first 250 MW by next month. Amongst the crystalline module suppliers, Trina Solar, Canadian Solar and Tata Power Solar have sold most in the last year.

However, this trend could change again, as First Solar is expected to supply modules to more than 100 MW of solar projects in the coming months. This is largely driven by supplies to batch I of phase II of the NSM. First Solar might have played the ambiguity around anti-dumping duties to its advantage by being aggressive and offering to deliver modules at competitive prices ahead of a decision on duties (22nd August 2014 – the duties were not imposed). Some projects for which First Solar might have won contracts are those by Azure Power, Focal Solar and Finnsurya.

Jyoti Gulia, Senior Manager, Market Intelligence, BRIDGE TO INDIA

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