In the second part of an interview with Zhenguo Li, LONGi Group’s president, Mark Osborne discusses capacity expansions and R&D spending.

In the second part of an interview with Zhenguo Li, LONGi Group’s president, Mark Osborne discusses capacity expansions and R&D spending.

Chinese PV firm LONGi Solar, which is the subsidiary of LONGi Group, has become arguably the industry’s greatest advocate of monocrystalline solar. The company has puts its money where its mouth is with huge investment to increase its manufacturing capabilities. 

In the second part of an interview with Zhenguo Li, LONGi Group’s president, Mark Osborne discusses capacity expansions and R&D spending.

Q: Could you provide an update on manufacturing capacity expansion plans, given you seem to be running at full capacity in the first half of 2017? 

That is true. We have been suffering from trying to meet customer demand for mono products. We have plans underway for wafer and module with relatively big expansions. From day one, we did not have aggressive plans for cell expansion as we wanted to work with our wafer customers, who are making cells. Their cell production was not planned to be as big as that for modules or wafers. That is the eco-friendly business strategy we have established. As long as we provide value to our customers, then we can coexist. 

Q: Last year the company announced plans to expand production into India. What is happening with those plans? 

We are still evaluating the opportunities, but currently those plans have been suspended as we noted in our first half year financial report. However, this year we are ramping up our Malaysia facilities, which will give us experience of operating plants outside of China. 

Q: The planned 5GW ingot/wafer investment was recently approved. What is happening next?

In fact, our expansions are moving faster than previously planned. At the beginning of this year our capacity for wafers had reached 7.5GW. We said that we would reach 12GW of wafer capacity by the end of 2017. Actually, today we are already at 12GW. We will continue to expand in 2017 and throughout next year. We expect to update plans in our 2017 Annual Report. 

LONGi is ramping wafer capacity faster than expected.

LONGi is ramping wafer capacity faster than expected.

Q: LONGi’s R&D spending has been impressive at around US$68 million so far in 2017. Where is the spending being targeted? 

We have three major R&D teams focused on ingot/wafer, cell and module. In ingot/wafer the team is around 300 people, with another 150 focused on cell activities. Then, in module we have around 250 people. Our spending has also been concentrated on purchasing equipment for R&D activities in both cell and module. 

We expect R&D spending to be slightly lower in the second half of the year, as less equipment is needed. Overall R&D spending in 2017 should be around 5 percent of revenue as this increases during the year. We are heavily committed to future R&D spending as this is key to both our success and that of our customers. 

Tags: longii green energy technology, c-si manufacturing, solar cell, pv modules, monocrystalline wafer, china

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