Indian solar imports and exports in the first half of 2021 back to pre-pandemic levels

Imports of solar cells and modules have surged by a staggering 1,000 per cent in the second quarter (Q2) of the calendar year (CY) 2021, totaling $762 million as compared to $69 million during the same period last year which was severely affected by COVID-19.

Quarter-over-quarter (QoQ), Indian solar imports rose by 194 per cent in Q2 2021 compared to $259.5 million in Q1 2021.

Likewise, solar exports also rose by 151 per cent to $61 million year-over-year (YoY) in Q2 2021, compared to $24 million during the same period last year. Exports surged 113 per cent compared to $29 million in Q1 2021.

This is the first big sign of market recovery and the bounce back of demand since COVID-19 related shut down of the markets at the end of March 2020. After the lockdown was announced on March 25th last year, solar construction activity was muted, and solar installations were down to just 3.2 gigawatt (GW) in the calendar year 2020.

The import-export activity has picked up this year, as the lockdowns were more targeted and managed by states resulting in a lot less disruption in construction and development activity.

Despite higher component costs and shortages, Imports have soared by 346 per cent in the first half (1H) of 2021 compared to the 1H 2020, while exports rose by 50 per cent compared to the same period last year. However, compared to pre-pandemic activity in 2019, imports were slightly lower. Exports, on the other hand, were up by 30 per cent. Further, the effect of the approved list of models and manufacturers of photovoltaic modules on imports is expected to impact in the second half of the year.

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