BHEL enters solar wafer business with indigenous tech, Rs 3,000-crore plant

State-run BHEL is looking at expanding its limited footprint in the renewable energy sector by getting into the manufacture of solar wafers. The public sector power equipment major’s initiative marks a welcome start to the country as a whole, since there is no domestic production yet of this key component of solar photovoltaic cells.

“We have taken board approval to manufacture solar wafers and are looking at viability gap funding support from the clean energy fund,” BHEL chairman and managing director B Prasada Rao told FE. A plant in Maharashtra’s Sakoli will start manufacturing the solar wafers, apart from photovoltaic cells, modules and solar panels. The company is investing R3,000 crore in the venture.

BHEL will use indigenous technology to make the wafers cut from crystalline silicon ingots. This will help reduce the cost of photovoltaic cells, giving a boost to the clean energy segment. The cost of putting up solar power projects is around R8-10 crore per megawatt. Tariff for electricity produced from this route could be R7-8 per unit.

“With the cost of putting up solar power projects coming down rapidly, it makes sense for us to be a large player in this segment. With the new facility, the company could command a substantial segment of the growing domestic market for solar energy,” said a BHEL board member.

BHEL is already present in the solar power segment with manufacturing facilities for lanterns, photovoltaic cells and modules and water heating systems, mostly made at its plant near Bangalore.

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Source: Financial Express



Executive at India Electron Exchange

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