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Accumulated ITC & Inverted Tax Structure Affecting Solar EPC

Solar Power is a source of clean, green energy and the much needed solution to solve our energy woes and fast growing energy demands of development. It is now fast becoming the cheapest source of electricity and is a solution to the electrification needs of remote villages across the country.

Further, being labour intensive, Solar PV is recognized to create more jobs per unit of energy (4 jobs per MW) than any other energy source and hence is promoted by the Indian Government as a solution to the country’s unemployment problems. Thus this industry is critical to the overall GDP growth and equitable development of India.

Indian EPC and more so Solar EPC is an aggressively competitive business with operating margins typically below 10% and net profits between 2-5% even in well managed businesses. Margins have shrunk even further as more and more entrepreneurs have entered this space in response to the Modi Government’s target to achieve 100 GW of solar PV installation by 2022.

However, the recent tax rate introductions under GST law are having an adverse impact on the roof-top solar market and Solar EPC margins in the following ways:

  • Firstly, solar plants were a zero rated product, i.e. they were VAT exempt in many states including Haryana and Rajasthan. Under GST law, a tax on 5% is applicable on roof-top solar plants. The increase in tax has not been accompanied by reduction in base price of the most expensive BOM items such as solar panels.
    • While commercial and industrial customers remain largely unaffected by the 5% tax rate, residential and institiutional customers who cannot take benefit of input tax credit are shying away from the increased net cost.

 

  • Even though tax on solar power plants is 5%, the GST on many of the BOM items is at higher slabs of 18% and 28% making it an inverted tax structure. Thus the input tax on solar components is always significantly higher than what can be offset against out put. An analysis done by Sunkalp Energy, pegs the excess accumulated input tax credit at 2- 2.5 Rs/ W- which is more than 5% of sales price.
    • Even though GST law has a provision for refund of excess accumulated credit there is no clear timeline for the same.
    • Inverted tax structure means an increase in working capital requirements for solar to the tune of 5% or more.
    • The strained cashflow position is making solar EPC increasingly unviable.

There had been positive indications earlier towards retaining solar’s zero rated position. However, there has been no notification towards that yet. In fact, MNRE had implemented Customs and Excise duty exemptions on components used for solar plants. Considering the importance of the solar EPC industry as a livelihood generator, we urge the GST council to review taxes applicable on solar power plant and their components.

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REI 2017

REI Expo Greater Noida 2017- Our Experience

This year was my 6th consecutive participation at the Renewable Energy India Expo (REI), Greater Noida- twice as an exhibitor and competitor and four times as a visitor. Over these past six years, I can certainly say that REI successfully captures the mood of the renewable energy industry. Here were my key takeaways from the expo this year:

  • Over the past years, REI has been a lot about hype, with a large proportion of only curious visitors. This year, having visited on the second day, I felt that even though the footfall was lower, but there was a larger proportion of serious business visitors. The spread in terms of number of stalls was also less than the last two years but stalls represented the serious long term players in the industry.

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The Global Grid: Cooperation for Sustainability

Abstract
The world today faces four faceted energy challenges of supply, security, access and de-carbonization. In a highly interdependent world where renewable energy is becoming an increasing part of the global energy mix, this paper proposes global energy connectivity as an important part of the solution. We analyse the technical and political aspects of energy connectivity and present several case studies to be referred to by policy makers as they prepare for global energy connectivity.

Download complete paper: The Global Grid

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Obama COP21

#covfefe Exiting the Paris Agreement: Beginning of the End of America’s Powers

The color of the global empire may well be green. ~ Yuval Noah Harrari

In his bestseller about the human species, Yuval Harrari makes a compelling argument about the direction in which we are headed. He states that slowly nationalism is being replaced by a deep global co-operation over matters that affect the entire humanity. Our deep sense of national identity is being over-ridden by our identification with the human species and the urge to save and sustain it.

This is obvious in the formation of groups such as the European Union and the United Nations, which transcend political boundaries.
Mr. Harrari argues that as it becomes easier to conduct business, transact culturally and economically across boundaries, countries will soon merge into a single unified empire.

Every empire requires a bedrock for collaboration- preservation of the Earth and environment as we know it will be the bedrock for our global empire. (more…)

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