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Thin film for Indian Comeback?

The use of thin-film technology in Indian PV projects could be set for a rebound after having taken a beating over the past year, according to analysis from consultancy Bridge to India.

The company’s India Solar Map 2014 published this week revealed that the share of thin-film modules in projects installed in India in the past year has fallen after having previously been far higher than the global average.

Between 2011 and 2013, Bridge to India’s analysis calculates that the deployment of thin-film in India was significantly above the international average of around 10%, ranging from 47% in 2011 to 29% in 2013. But so far this year it said that thin-film modules had only accounted for 4% – or 18MW – of installations.

The fall came about because policy “distortions” that had initially encouraged imports of thin-film over crystalline modules had now waned, Bridge to India said.

During the time thin-film deployment was at its peak in India, domestic content rules only applied to crystalline silicon modules, but left the door open to thin-film imports. That situation has now changed, with domestic content requirements now only applying to half the projects being developed under the current phase of India’s national solar mission.

As a result c-Si technology has seen its share among projects installed in India so far this year grow to 96%, or 428MW, with 45% coming from China and 35% from India. Modules from Trina Solar, Canadian Solar and India’s Tata Power Solar have been the biggest sellers in India so far this year.

But Bridge to India said this trend could be about to change again, with US thin-film giant First Solar expected to supply its modules to more than 100MW of projects in the coming months under the first batch of the solar mission’s second phase.

It speculated that First Solar had capitalised on the ambiguity arising from India’s threat to impose anti-dumping duties on solar imports by offering competitive prices on its modules ahead of the government’s August decision on duties, which eventually opted not to impose them.

First Solar was unavailable for comment on this claim.

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