this is months old report, but i don't think that most of us have gone through this... China's cheap solar panels cause dark spots in Indian market Anindya Upadhyay, ET Bureau Jan 3, 2015, 10.00AM IST NEW DELHI: In the narrow, crowded and serpentine lanes of Lajpat Rai Market in front of the Red Fort in Delhi, there are hundreds of vendors selling Chinese solar panels at less than half the price of Indian brands, much like vegetables, to buyers from power-starved villages in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana. However, instead of helping realise the dream of transforming the lives of more than 300 million people who live without electricity in the country, these Chinese products are wrecking the market as they often stop working within months, industry insiders allege. They say only import regulations and quality standardisation can check this "e-waste dumping" by China. A shopkeeper at Lajpat Rai Market said most buyers go for cheap Chinese solar panels despite traders' warnings. "We tell them these have no service warranty, no performance guarantees but they think we're fooling them into buying costly products. Within months their solar systems stop working and they call up crying after having lost all investment," he said. Several experiences with substandard products in rural India have started making people suspicious of solar technology, forcing some Indian brands to launch awareness campaigns to counter this. Tata Power Solar, for example, started a 75-day campaign in 22 districts of Bihar in November to educate people to distinguish between fake and genuine products and about the value of warranties. "We decided to start the campaign when we offered to sell a contractor in Patna 40 solar lamps for his vending carts to replace expensive kerosene lamps. He refused to buy as he had invested a lot in Chinesemade lamps, all of which stopped working within 35 days," said Gagan Pal, vice-president, products and operations, at Tata Power Solar. According to him, substandard Chinese products dominate the Indian solar market with 60-70% share. Kunwer Sachdev, managing director at Su-Kam, another Indian solar products manufacturer, said a large quantity of panels imported from China are just electronic waste. "Often, we are given a panel of 50 watts instead of 100 watts and no one knows how long it'll last... two or three years? Its wattage is lower," he said. "When food products come, there's an audit out there. Why is it not the same for solar panel shipments? How can you allow China to sell us e-waste?" Sachdev said. Many Chinese products also use fake brand names to confuse consumers. This reporter saw 'So-Kam' solar panels being sold at Lajpat Rai market. Tata Power Solar officials said they have found 'Tata BP' or 'Tata' on panels of Chinese make. Government officials said they were aware of imports of rejected poorquality panels and are looking for solutions to curb them. "We have recently written to the Controller of Imports and Exports to check Chinese solar water heaters coming to India. We have to do something for panels next," said Tarun Kapoor, joint secretary, solar, at the ministry of new and renewable energy. Industry players called for a quality regulator. Tarun Singh, an engineer who has returned from the US to launch renewable energy solutions firm Veddis Solars, said banks will stop lending for solar projects unless there are quality standards and a regulator to enforce them. "The time has come for standardisation and regulation of quality. Only this can open up markets by making finance available to this sector," he said. Singh, who said his firm has installed solar systems in almost all districts of Bihar, said poor quality Chinese products dominate Exhibition Road in Patna, just like Lajpat Rai Market in Delhi.