India’s renewable energy ministry has backed a demand to shield some projects from impending taxes on solar equipment imports after generators said the added costs will slow the nation’s shift to clean energy. “We have requested the Ministry of Finance to consider grandfathering of basic customs duty for projects bid out before March 9, 2021,” the renewable energy ministry said in response to emailed queries, indicating support for exempting these projects.
The levies, effective from April 1, could jeopardize solar projects with a combined capacity of 28 gigawatts, according to the National Solar Energy Federation of India. The industry group has asked the government to shield projects awarded before March 9 last year, when the plan was officially announced, from the higher costs to keep them viable.
The import taxes — 40% for modules and 25% for cells — are aimed at encouraging greater domestic manufacturing of solar equipment. The federation, however, estimates they will add to power bills and slow the country’s efforts to move away from coal, which accounts for more than two-thirds of electricity generation.
“Such incremental costs will have an adverse impact on the perception of the renewable energy industry, which is seen as a cost-effective alternative to conventional sources of energy,” the group said in a letter to Renewable Energy Minister Raj Kumar Singh. Without any tax relief, some projects might not get commissioned, it said.