As SOLARCON India Concludes, Market Remains Turbulent but Hopeful
By Bettina Weiss, SEMI
The 5th edition of SEMI’s SOLARCON India exposition and conference in Bangalore was a reflection of the PV industry everywhere – times are still tough, turbulent and uncertain – especially in the manufacturing sector. Still, it was heartening to see a good buzz on the show floor and a robust number of conference delegates participate on all three days.
One of the many conference highlights was the participation of Dr. Amita Prasad, the new Principal Secretary, Energy Department, Government of Karnataka, at the inaugural ceremony. Dr. Prasad’s perspective on advancing India’s solar energy goals, especially in the rural areas where hundreds of millions of people remain without access to electricity, resonated with the audience and inspired hope that during her tenure in the Karnataka government, PV/solar deployment will be one of her priorities. Dr. Prasad was also very interested in products and applications and spent considerable time at the exposition to talk with exhibitors to get a sense of the PV ecosystem in India.
The theme of the SOLARCON India conference this year was “Balancing Energy Supply & Demand in the Region - the need for a complete PV eco-system from materials to power generation”. The 3-day conference featured global and Indian PV experts, visionaries and industry leaders and was complemented by a one-day workshop on “PV Standards from Materials and Manufacturing to Systems”, in association with the IEEE-Standards Association and IEC and sponsored by Underwriters Laboratories. On the second day, there was a unique tutorial entitled, “Introduction to solar PV system sizing” in technical collaboration with the National Centre for PV Research & Education at IIT Bombay. Click here to browse through the sessions:www.solarconindia.org
The PV/solar business in the manufacturing segment of the value chain remains challenging. We continue to churn through a stubborn overcapacity situation, prices have fallen too fast too steeply, resulting in margins that are slim or non-existent. And ongoing trade disputes are adding their own dynamics. However, there appears to be consensus among market analysts that supply and demand will rebalance in 2015, which would allow for margins to grow and for manufacturing to start again. Demand is set to reach 31GW worldwide, and will provide a boost to installers and project developers. It remains to be seen how long it will take for this boost to trickle through the supply chain and all the way down to equipment and materials suppliers.
Downturns, however, even as severe as we are living through right now, come with opportunities. While our 5th SOLARCON India exposition and conference was also our last, SEMI will continue to support the Indian PV/solar ecosystem with our tried and true technology short courses, workforce development seminars, and will work to strengthen public policy and government relations at the state and national level, provide platforms for industry engagement and information exchange and be a bridge between India and the global PV market.
SEMI, The Grid – August 2013