Reforms in ALMM: Boosting India’s solar industry

The Approved List of Models and Manufacturers (ALMM) for Solar Photovoltaic Modules has been enhanced with significant reforms. The reforms primarily focus on cost reduction for solar PV manufacturers, streamlining the application-to-enlistment timeline, and easing the compliance burden. 

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India has been actively working on expanding its manufacturing capacity for solar modules to support its renewable energy goals. The government has been promoting the development of domestic solar manufacturing through various initiatives and policies such as the “Make in India” campaign and the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme. To boost solar manufacturing, the government is coming up with enhanced ALMM.

Let’s understand what ALMM is and how its reforms are going to benefit the Indian manufacturers.

What is ALMM?

The Approved List of Models and Manufacturers (ALMM) is a compilation of solar photovoltaic (PV) module models and manufacturers that have been authorized by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). This list is for solar projects across various sectors, including government projects, government-assisted projects, government schemes and programs, open access and net-metering projects, as well as utility-scale solar projects tendered by entities like Solar Energy Corporation of India Limited (SECI).

It also applies to rooftop solar installations with net metering and the corporate Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) market. In essence, the ALMM ensures that only PV modules from the listed manufacturers and models can be used for these specific solar projects in India, including those initiated by the government and various schemes like KUSUM (a scheme aimed at ensuring energy security for farmers in India).

Background of ALMM

To safeguard consumers’ interests and ensure the country’s energy security, it is important to verify that solar PV cells and modules used in power installations are genuinely manufactured in the claimed units. Some units may falsely assert the production of solar cells and modules that were actually made elsewhere. Ensuring the reliability of producers becomes vital in protecting consumers and maintaining a robust energy infrastructure for the nation.

With ALMM, the government ensures that solar panels are only manufactured by the specified manufacturers and that specific models are permissible for use.

ALMM consists of two lists:

  1. List-I (Solar PV models and manufacturers).
  2. List-II (Solar PV cells and manufacturers).

The ALMM Order states that ALMM shall consist of LIST-I specifying models and manufacturers of Solar PV Modules and LIST-II specifying models and manufacturers of Solar PV Cells.

  • ALMM List consists of 91 no. of module manufacturing facilities (all domestic) with an aggregate solar PV module manufacturing capacity of 22,389 MW per year.
  • Only the models and manufacturers listed in ALMM List-I for solar PV modules are eligible for utilization in various government projects, government-assisted projects, projects under government schemes and programs, and open access and net-metering projects installed within the country.
  • This includes projects established for selling electricity to the government, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Central Government under section 63 of the Electricity Act, 2003. The term “Government” encompasses the Central Government, State Governments, Central Public Sector Enterprises, State Public Sector Enterprises, as well as Central and State Organizations and Autonomous Bodies.

How ALMM will benefit the Industry?

The revisions made to the ALMM (Approved List of Models and Manufacturers) for Photovoltaic Modules aim to improve the business environment and facilitate the growth of domestic solar photovoltaic module production, meeting both present and future demands.

  1. Provisional Enlistment: Upon receipt of BIS registration, provisional enlistment in the ALMM will be granted within 7 days. Factory enlistment and final enlistment must be completed within a time limit of two months. Failure to meet this deadline will result in deemed enlistment.
  2. Streamlining Application Process: All future ALMM applications must be accompanied by scanned copies of the applications. The processing of ALMM applications will commence without waiting for the submission of hard copies, which can be provided subsequently.
  3. Minimum Module Efficiency Thresholds: To ensure quality standards, the introduction of end-use category-wise minimum module efficiency thresholds is proposed for enlistment in ALMM. The minimum module efficiency thresholds for various end-use categories are as follows:
    • Utility/Grid-Scale Power Plants: The minimum module efficiency threshold for utility/grid-scale power plants will be set at 20.00%.
    • Rooftop and Solar Pumping: The minimum module efficiency threshold for rooftop and solar pumping installations will be set at 19.50%.
    • Solar Lighting: The minimum module efficiency threshold for solar lighting will be set at 19.00%.

Final word

The reforms introduced in the ALMM for Solar Photovoltaic Modules are set to bring significant benefits to the solar industry in India. With cost reductions, streamlined application processes, and eased compliance burdens, the reforms aim to enhance the ease of doing business and promote domestic solar module production. The major ways in which the will benefit the industry are as follows:

  • 80% reduction in the application fee.
  • A substantial decrease in inspection fees, reaching up to 70% in certain cases.
  • Exemption from factory inspections for manufacturers seeking to enlist additional models in the ALMM that are similar to their existing enlisted models but have lower wattage.
  • Manufacturers now have the option to withdraw their applications before undergoing factory inspection, and they will receive a refund of 90% of the application fee.

The provision for provisional enlistment and the introduction of minimum module efficiency thresholds further ensure quality standards and timely processing. These reforms will not only support the growth of the solar sector but also contribute to the country’s energy security and sustainable development goals.

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