Patanjali to enter solar sector as Modi government readies help for domestic manufacturers

Swadeshi version coming soon.
Swadeshi version coming soon.
Image: AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan
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After shaking up India’s consumer goods sector, stepping into private security, and even eyeing infrastructure, Patanjali now wants a slice of India’s solar market.

The consumer goods company, which clocked a turnover of Rs10,561 crore ($1.64 billion) for the year ended March 2017 on the back of growing demand for its ayurvedic products, now plans to manufacture solar panels, Patanjali’s managing director, Acharya Balkrishna, told the Mint newspaper in an interview.

Yoga guru Ramdev-led Patanjali’s interest in the sector comes at a time when the Narendra Modi government is pushing for the expansion of the renewables sector, with a target of 100 gigawatts (GW, or 1,000 megawatts) of solar power capacity by 2022. Although the sector has hit somewhat of a roadblock owing to rising input costs and stagnant demand, there is still a lot of promise, given the country’s overall energy requirement and intention to meet carbon emission goals.

“The government has been working on the solar industry, and even offering sops. We will manufacture solar panels in India without compromising the quality,” Balkrishna said. “But we are not going to get into the price war with the Chinese solar panels,” he added, referring to cheap Chinese imports that have flooded the Indian market and pushed domestic manufacturers to the brink. The company plans to invest in a solar equipment facility in Greater Noida, near New Delhi, over the next few months, according to the Mint report.

Incidentally, the Modi government is considering imposing an anti-dumping duty on imported solar panels to help domestic manufacturers. Homegrown players have been bleeding because of the cheaper variants made in China, Malaysia, and Taiwan, which form nearly 90% of the solar panels used in the country.

Meanwhile, this wouldn’t be the first time Patanjali diversified beyond packaged goods. In recent months, it has announced plans to build a security agency and also made its interest in the infrastructure sector known. In February this year, Patanjali got into the edible oils business after signing a deal with Ruchi Soya, one of India’s largest edible-oil makers.

And now it’s renewables. Patanjali plans to double its turnover to over Rs20,000 crore by the next financial year. “Getting into solar is in line with the swadeshi movement,” Balkrishna added. “With solar, each household in India can have power supply, and we are here to make that happen.”