U.S. Solar Firm CubicPV Targets India for $1 Billion Investment

Industrial buildings stand beyond DMICDC Neemrana Solar Power Co.'s solar panels in Neemrana, Rajasthan. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

U.S. Solar Firm CubicPV Targets India for $1 Billion Investment

U.S. solar-technology firm CubicPV Inc. plans to invest as much as $1.1 billion to make equipment in India, drawn by government incentives.

CubicPV is looking for an Indian partner to bid for the state benefits, Chief Executive Officer Frank van Mierlo said in an interview. If it’s successful, it’ll set up solar wafer and cell manufacturing facilities in the country, he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to spur domestic manufacturing in a range of sectors, to create jobs and revive an economy hard-hit by the Covid-19 crisis. In the solar industry, the push to make more cells and panels at home is aimed at curbing reliance on China, which accounts for 80% of supplies.

“There’s a real desire to build up a domestic industry and there’s a willingness to nurture that industry,” Van Mierlo said. “Now is the moment to expand” in India.

CubicPV hopes to set up 2 gigawatts of wafer and cell production capacity with an investment of about $350 million, while its partner would invest in a similar capacity of modules, the CEO said. CubicPV would later expand wafer and cell capacity to 10 gigawatts a year, with a total investment of $1.1 billion, he said.

The Bedford, Massachusetts-based company was formed through the merger of 1366 Technologies Inc. and Hunt Perovskite Technologies LLC in June. It plans to employ “direct wafer” technology, which casts wafers directly from a silicon melt, reducing waste and costs. It also intends to offer “tandem modules,” which combine perovskite and silicon components to generate electricity and are more efficient than traditional panels, according to the company.

India, currently dependent on coal for almost 70% of its electricity needs, plans to ramp up renewable generation capacity almost fivefold to 450 gigawatts by 2030.

As part of that program, it’s offering solar-industry incentives totaling 45 billion rupees ($603 million), to be disbursed annually over five years. There’s also a minimum requirement for domestically produced components for some solar projects, and import taxes on cells and panels coming from China.

Indian tycoon Mukesh Ambani last month unveiled a multibillion-dollar investment in clean energy, including in solar equipment production.

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