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Chinese Solar Cell Industry Faces Heat from the US - Opportunity for India?

Dr Archana Verma
The US is causing pressure on China to move away from supplying the Xingjiang-manufactured polysilicon cells that are used in solar panels. Horizon Advisory, a research-based consultancy organisation has found that these cells are manufactured by using forced labour of the Uighur community in Xingjiang.
The Solar Energy Association, which has many large solar panel companies as its members, has said that it would not accept the use of polysilicon cells produced by forced labour.
The problem is that almost all polysilicon cells are produced in China and almost half of them are believed to be manufactured in the Xingjiang province.
John Smirnow, VP, Solar Energy Association said, "US polysilicon companies have been the victim of the US-China trade conflicts and have been unfairly blocked (by China) from selling polysilicon to China."
Julia Friedlander, Deputy Director of the Atlantic Council's Geo-Economic Centre said, "Chinese companies face a balancing act in trying to keep their operations in play for the US market."
China has retaliated aggressively to these developments and has denied using any forced labour in manufacturing its cells for the solar panels. It has further indicated that the US is likely to face a backlash if it tried to cur Chinese exports of solar-related products.
On the other hand, US is attempting to revive its polysilicon cells markets abroad.
The important point to note here is that Indian government has been trying to establish its own home-grown polysilicon cells manufacturing units under its Make in India programme.
The increase in customs duty on imported solar products going to upto 20% in the recent budget is an indication that India aims to accelerate its own solar products production rather than depend upon imported products.
It remains to be seen who comes out the winner in this trade and global policy war.