- MNRE has launched the Standards & Labelling Programme to bring in star labeling for solar PV panels
- Modules will be labeled according to their efficiency levels, basis certain criteria prepared by the BEE
- The registration will be voluntary for 2 years, but will be made mandatory starting from 2026
Indian Ministry of Power (MoP) has announced a new star labeling system for solar panels, admitting modules with an effective efficiency of more than 22%, with plans to phase out outdated panels. Prepared by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), it will indicate quality and energy efficiency of modules.
Launched under the Standards & Labelling Programme (S&L), the system will make it easier for citizens to make an informed and judicious decision while purchasing and deploying solar modules, explained the government.
Solar manufacturers who want to list their panels under the program will need to register themselves. For the initial 2 years, from January 1, 2024 to December 31, 2025, the program is voluntary with no labeling fee. It will be reviewed after a year and if the industry is found not coming forward for labeling, then it will be made mandatory.
It will cover all types and sizes/capacity of PV modules imported or manufactured in India for electricity generation. The BEE proposed star rating ranges from 1-Star with efficiencies of over 17% to 18%, and goes up to 5-Star for modules with over 22% efficiency.
BEE Director General Abhay Bakre explained that progression from a 1-Star to 2-Star solar module will lead to additional electricity generation of around 12% on a typical 10 sq. m. roof area, while for 4-Star and 5-Star panels can increase their efficiency by as much as 29% to 35%.
Among the eligibility criteria is the requirement for solar modules to not degrade beyond 3% after being subjected to design qualifications tests including hot-spot endurance, UV preconditioning, thermal cycling, humidity free and damp heat tests. Their performance should not degrade beyond 3% post the PID test.
Since the efficiency of PV modules is expected to increase by 2% over its existing levels, electricity generation is expected to increase by 33 GWh/year, which Bakre said will offset around 27,000 tons of carbon emissions/year.
The effort is geared towards ensuring 100% ‘best quality’ Made in India solar panels. As the Union Minister for Power and New & Renewable Energy, RK Singh said, “We will bring in a policy after 2 years, under which even PV Cells should be manufactured in India and not imported from elsewhere. After a further two years, we will insist on wafer to be made in India so that our solar panels will be 100% Made in India and high-quality solar panels, where first cells and later wafers too shall be Made in India.”
He added, “India is not going to be satisfied with second best; we want nothing but the best. So, lesser efficient panels will be removed from the ALMM (Approved List of Models and Manufacturers) over time; outdated models will not be endorsed by the government.”
Currently, the BEE Star Labelling applies mandatorily to electronic equipment such as air conditioners, televisions, ceiling fans, refrigerators, among others, whereas the list of voluntary rating includes solar water heaters.
The solar PV S&L program has technical support from the MNRE, National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay. Details of the S&L program are available on the Press Information Bureau’s (PIB) website.
At present, the ministry has exempted developers from using only India-made solar modules listed under ALMM List I for projects supported by the government and commissioned till March 31, 2024.
As prices of solar modules drop internationally, sparking concerns about bulk buying of cheaper panels made outside India, the ministry has warned of serious penalties for the violation of Domestic Content Requirement (DCR) for projects and programs it supports, in compliance with the World Trade Organization (WTO) directives.