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After shaking up the FMCG sector, Yoga guru Ramdev's Patanjali Ayurved is headed to the infrastructure sector. It plans to diversify into solar power equipment manufacturing, a burgeoning sector that is largely dependent on Chinese imports.
“Getting into solar is in line with the swadeshi movement. With solar, each household in India can have power supply, and we are here to make that happen,” Acharya Balkrishna, managing director of Patanjali Ayurved, said in an interview to Mint.
Patanjali plans to invest around Rs 100 crore in solar equipment manufacturing and its factory in Greater Noida is expected to be fully operational within the next couple of months. Patanjali acquired Advance Navigation and Solar Technologies, a manufacturer of navigation aid equipment, earlier this year. Currently, the facility has a manufacturing capacity of 120 megawatts.
Patanjali will be venturing into a nascent segment where its unique evangelical capacities can be of great help. Ramdev's persuasive brand power can help Patanjali achieve scale. While the government is actively pursuing ambitious renewable-energy goals, solar power industry is still struggling to evolve in India.
The government plans to install 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022. While the government is confident of surpassing the target comfortably, it is exploring ways to add incremental capacity through floating solar, solar manufacturing and offshore wind projects, among other measures. India will have to strive a lot to reach the target in five years from the current base of 60 gigawatts.
Indian solar market leans heavily on Chinese imports. Recently, there were reports of poor quality Chinese solar modules, rejected by developers, were being sold in the Indian market at cheap rates.
The Directorate General of Antidumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) initiated an investigation in July into dumping of solar equipment into India by China, Malaysia and Taipei after Indian manufacturers' body, Indian Solar Manufacturers Association (ISMA), filed a petition arguing that import of solar equipment from China, Taiwan and Malaysia was hurting the domestic industry.
A few days ago, China-based Trina Solar, the world’s biggest solar panel maker, has put on hold its make-in-India plan to set up a 1,000 megawatt manufacturing unit in India because of low prices and absence of supportive policies but it will invest up to $500 million if it gets the right incentives.
Patnajali's foray into a nascent futuristic segment pushed by the government but low on capacity could be successful because of its brand ambassador Ramdev's iconic status among the masses and his power to influence lifestyles.
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