Reliance Industries’ recent massive investment in renewable energy includes an integrated solar manufacturing facility. The facility is planned to cover the entire value chain of solar panel production, i.e. starting from raw silica and ending at finished modules. Currently, Indian manufacturers only focus on the downstream part of the value chain, whereby they mostly import solar cells and assemble them into modules. The facility is part of Reliance Industries’ goal to drastically increase the capacity of solar power in India.
Encompassing the entire value chain of solar panel production is a significant shift in India’s role in the manufacturing of solar panels. The focus on downstream aspects until now has meant that India has not had to mine its land for the necessary raw materials. With the current plans, large areas of land will have to be mined for silica, bringing with it the associated environmental impacts and land use issues.
Such an integrated facility is likely to reduce the dependency on China for imports and lower the cost of solar panel production in India.