India loses WTO case on solar panels suppliers

Posted on 1 Sep 2015 by Michael Cruickshank

The Indian Government has been dealt a blow with last week’s loss of a World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute regarding solar panels.

The case was brought against India by the US, and related to alleged protections on the country’s solar panel industry.

India’s federal solar program was found to be violating global trade rules through the imposition of local-purchase requirements for solar cells.

According to Reuters, the WTO panel also ruled against incentives and subsidies provided to local solar companies for the production of solar cells and modules.

India plans to appeal this ruling, and in accordance with WTO rules, a review will take place in November, where India will have 4 months to once again argue its case.

Should the WTO continue to find that India is breaking its trade rules, the country will have to change its offending policies or face punishment from the WTO.

This is not the first time that the US has taken India to court over solar panel import restrictions. In 2014 India lost a similar case at the WTO regarding alleged restrictions imposed on US solar manufacturers in the Indian market.

National Solar Mission

These WTO cases relate to a new and ambitious program outlined by the Indian Government to build up its solar industry and its renewable power generation capacity.

Dubbed the ‘Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission’, the program calls for to India to generate 100GW of power from solar energy by the year 2022. Of this amount, India wants locally manufactured solar cells to provide at least 8GW of capacity.

This program has been considerably expanded during the leadership of new nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi who increased the generation target fivefold earlier this year.

Modi aims not just to deal with the country’s rampant air pollution problems, but also help transform India into a major solar manufacturing player.

The Indian Government has estimated that the total cost of this program will come to around 600bn rupees ($9.03bn).