The solar industry reaction to the budget of 2019

On the brighter side, the Union Budget 2019 brings in new opportunities with focus on electric vehicle and energy storage as well as investment in railways.

Expressing his happiness over renewable energy being a priority in governments vision, Sunil Rathi, director, Wa are Energies, told PV Magazine, We are elated at renewable energy being a key dimension in governments vision for the coming decade, as proposed in the Interim Budget, with specific focus on electric vehicle and energy storage solutions.

On the opportunities for domestic manufactures, he added: With the focus on supporting domestic trade and services, and public sector undertakings now sourcing from local entities, we foresee an impetus towards growth for domestic manufacturers in the sector, while achieving economies of scale and supporting job creation.

We see solar energy as an integral support pillar to The Pradhan Mantri Subaghya Yojana, which aims at making electricity accessible to all. We applaud the governments 2030 vision of reduced dependencies on foreign entities for fossil fuel and believe that given a sustainable ecosystem for domestic solar manufacturers, solar energy will be a prime source of energy. This, in turn, will reduce imports, thus strengthening the Rupee denomination and contributing to the nations gross domestic product (GDP), Rathi said.

Furthermore, the proposed investment in the Railways and Roadways segments will enhance the scope for interstate commercial transportation, thus providing the solar industry with an opportunity to solarise commercial vehicles and other modes of public transport like buses and trains. With technological evolution leading the sustainable efforts of the country, we are confident that, if implemented, the proposed vision will help attain energy security and generate employment, he added.

Gagan Vermani, CEO and founder, MYSUN, however, felt that for the second year in a row, solar was a no-show at the 2019 Interim Union Budget, apart from a sole mention about the installed solar generation capacity addition in the last five years.

While prices for solar have continued to drop over the last year, its the lack of financing for solar projects that have hit the industry hard. And this years budget has missed addressing that yet again. We have been demanding solar loans to be treated like home loans, as an instrument for individuals to claim a tax rebate. But seems like the industry will have to wait for that, he told PV Magazine while sharing the issues before the Indian solar industry.

The only silver lining is that there is some indirect relief to MSME units registered with the GST in the form of a 2% interest rebate on fresh or incremental loans up to a limit of Rs 1 crore. This may incentivize some of these MSMEs to utilize this facility to install solar systems on their rooftops and thereby reduce their energy bills, he said.

Nishant Jain, associate consultant at Gensol, too feels that the interim budget fails to cater to the needs of renewable energy sector as no subsidies and incentives were announce.

Already the renewable sector, especially solar, is going through many up and downs, which creates the scarcity of financing option, he said while also adding that promoting electric vehicle and energy storage would lead us to a sustainable and better future.

Vinay Rustagi, managing director of Bridge To India ( a market intelligence and consulting firm ), sums up by saying: To be honest, we were not expecting much other than possibly allocation of some funds for KUSUM, particularly given that elections are around the corner. Overall, it is disappointing for the sector but we said at the beginning of the year that we are going to see little government initiative this year.