Vikram Solar Ltd and Waaree Energies Ltd have hired investment banks for their respective initial public offerings (IPOs), three people aware of the matter said, as the solar panel makers aim to expand business riding the drive for local manufacturing.

The two companies are looking to raise around ₹1,500 crore each, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.

“Vikram Solar has appointed JM Financial and has started working on its IPO, while Waaree has appointed Axis Capital and ICICI Securities for its IPO,” one of the three people said. “While both companies want to raise capital to invest in expanding their manufacturing capacities, in the case of Vikram Solar, a substantial part of the proceeds will also go towards reducing its debt. Waaree is practically debt-free at the moment,” he added.

An email sent to Vikram Solar and text messages sent to Waaree chairperson Hitesh Doshi remained unanswered till press time.

Headquartered in Kolkata, Vikram Solar has a photovoltaic module manufacturing capacity of 2.5 gigawatts (GW), while Gujarat-based Waaree has a capacity of 2GW. The two companies also offer engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services to build solar projects.

“There is a strong government thrust to scale up domestic manufacturing of solar panels, given the large capacities that India plans to set up in the coming years and so far, there has been a very high dependence on imports of solar panels, especially from China. The government’s plans to bring in high duties on imports of solar panels and cells is a big boost for domestic manufacturers,” the second person cited above said.

India is running the world’s largest clean energy programme to achieve 175GW of renewable capacity, including 100GW of solar power by 2022. According to the Central Electricity Authority, by 2030, the country’s power requirement would be 817GW, more than half of which would be clean energy; of this, 280GW would be from solar energy alone.

To achieve the target of 280GW, around 25GW of solar energy capacity is needed to be installed every year till 2030.

In March, the government decided to impose a 40% basic customs duty on solar modules and 25% on solar cells from 1 April 2022, which would make imports costlier and encourage local manufacturing. The customs duty will replace a 15% safeguard duty that is currently imposed on imports from China and Malaysia.

According to a notification from the ministry of new and renewable energy, the aim is for India to emerge as a leading global supplier of these items, besides meeting its own needs locally.

The government is also trying to boost domestic manufacturing through the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme that offers manufacturers in 10 sectors, including those of high-efficiency solar modules, total benefits of ₹1.97 trillion.

India’s imports of solar cells and modules fell to $571.65 million in the last fiscal from $1.68 billion and $2.16 billion in 2019-20 and 2018-19, respectively, Union power and new and renewable energy minister Raj Kumar Singh told the Lok Sabha on Thursday. China accounted for $494.87 million of last year’s imports, government data showed.

Source: Live Mint