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Why Adani Solar Sought Visas For Chinese

By Amritha Pillay, Shreya Jai
July 08, 2024 08:59 IST
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In seeking visa approvals for engineers from China, the company has reasoned that India lacks the expertise to set up such a solar facility.

IMAGE: Workers install solar panels at Adani Green Energy Ltd's Khavda Renewable Energy Park in Khavda, April 12, 2024. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters

The Adani Group's solar manufacturing business is learnt to have sought the Union government's approval to bring close to 30 engineers from China.

These engineers could help build a robust and indigenous supply chain of solar equipment for the infrastructure-to-mining conglomerate.

The company, in its submissions, has mentioned eight foreign partners -- all from China -- which are original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and supply chain vendors.

According to the documents reviewed by Business Standard, the company has imported Chinese equipment worth Rs 591 crore (Rs 5.91 billion) in the financial year 2021-2022 and Rs 180 crore (Rs 1.8 billion) in 2022-2023.

Mundra Solar Technology Ltd (MSTL), the solar manufacturing unit run by Adani Solar, has a target to build 10 gigawatt (Gw) of integrated solar manufacturing capacity by 2027.

The factory is being set up in Kutch, Gujarat, at an investment of Rs 25,114 crore (Rs 251.14 billion), according to the company's communication with the government.

MSTL is also a winner under the Centre's production linked incentive (PLI) scheme.

Under the PLI scheme, it will set up 4 Gw of solar module manufacturing. Its ingot, wafer, and cell (components of solar module/panel) manufacturing is non-PLI.

In February, Adani Solar sought visas for 15 Chinese nationals to be employed in its solar manufacturing unit. In March, it requested visas to 13 more Chinese nationals.

These engineers are employed with Chinese solar supply chain vendors of Adani Solar.

In its submission to the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE), the nodal ministry for solar PLI, seeking approval for foreign vendors and executives, the company has referred to its solar business as part of the Make in India initiative.

A detailed questionnaire sent to the spokespersons of the Adani Group and MNRE remained unanswered till print time. Sources said the request is under process.

The eight Chinese vendors listed by Adani Solar are engaged in manufacturing of silicone cells, photoelectric equipment, wafer making, semiconductor and similar equipment required for setting up solar equipment supply chain.

The engineers from these firms would help Adani set up product units, ramp up production in existing units and train the Indian staff. The duration of their stay in India ranges from six months to one year.

In seeking visa approvals for engineers from China, the company has reasoned that India lacks the expertise to set up such a solar facility.

'The solar manufacturing project is being set up and executed for the first time in India and we don't have experts for the same. Therefore, we need experts for plant setup, installing, testing and commissioning,' said the submission by Adani Solar.

It has, however, said that the company guarantees that these executives would be employed for a brief period, will train Indian staff and leave before the stipulated period.

MNRE has also endorsed Adani's request to the ministry of external affairs.

'OM dated 14.02.2024, this ministry has forwarded details of 15 Chinese nationals w.r.t MSTL's project under PLI scheme, along with other prescribed documents, for further necessary action,' said a letter dated March 2024 to the ministry of external affairs.

Now MSTL, beneficiary under PLI scheme of high efficiency solar PV modules has forwarded the details of 13 additional Chinese nationals, in the format as prescribed, with a request for facilitation of business visa for these persons who are required for manufacturing project by MSTL, under the PLI scheme,' the letter added.

The Galwan clash in 2020 was a turning point in India-China relations, adversely impacting business ties as well. Since then, they have imposed visa and travel restrictions on the people of the two countries.

Almost all solar PLI winners including Reliance Industries have listed supply chain partners and service providers from China, with some of them mentioning more than 50 Chinese vendors.

These companies have applied for exemption on visa for these vendor partners and approval for importing technology from China.

Industry watchers pointed out that as Adani is relying on equipment from Chinese vendors, this requires them to have engineers from these suppliers to execute and also train the Indian staff in operating and maintaining the machines.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/

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Amritha Pillay, Shreya Jai
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