Wuxi Suntech is currently upgrading cell and module production lines in China ahead of plans to increase in-house module capacity in 2014, according to its recently appointed CEO, Eric Luo.
In an interview at PV Tech’s headquarters in London, England, Luo said that Wuxi Suntech was upgrading lines to improve conversion efficiencies and expand module production to between 2.4GW to 2.5GW, a 20% increase from official production levels at the end of 2011.
Luo said that the intention was to expand in-house capacity by the end of 2014 to between 3GW and 3.5GW.
According to the last published annual report of Suntech Power Holdings in 2011, Wuxi Suntech’s wafer and ingot production capacity stood at 1.6GW, while its cell and module capacity stood at 2.4GW.
The Wuxi Suntech CEO highlighted that the increased production and capacity expansions were required to support parent company Shunfeng’s drive to further its downstream PV project business, which currently has a 3GW pipeline.
However, Luo noted that the company expected to support external customer demand for its modules with around 50% of production in 2014. Importantly, supply of modules could be supported by OEM agreements in key markets. Possible deals were being considered, Luo said.
“Shunfeng has built nearly 1GW in China and now has a 3GW pipeline,” Luo told reporters at a press event on Wednesday. “As part of this value chain, some of this production will be closed for Shunfeng’s projects but a significant volume will be for export outside of China.
“Shunfeng’s solid internal demand means we can ramp up our capacity very fast, our production is more scalable, which will improve our cost competitiveness. That’s probably one of the reasons that Shunfeng has paid US$500 million cash to purchase Wuxi Suntech. No matter what, they need dependable supplies,” he added.
On a regional basis, the UK in particular and Europe in general were a key part of Wuxi Suntech’s “new look” business strategy going forward.
Luo told PV Tech that Wuxi Suntech had been given a module supply quota under the EU/China anti-dumping agreement of in excess of 500MW per annum, noting that it had one of the three highest quotas. In total, around 100 manufacturers share an annual quota of 7GW.
Another key overseas market remained Japan where the company has operated for many years and had previously acquired Japanese firm, MSK. According to Luo, Wuxi Suntech had retained its number one market share position in Japan in 2013 for overseas module suppliers.
The company in tandem with Shunfeng expects to develop PV projects in key markets such as Japan in 2014.
A full version of the exclusive video interview will appear on PV Tech soon.