MEMC goes to China: JV with JA Solar on cell manufacturing

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Adding another downstream element to its evolving integrated business model with risk adverse overtones, MEMC is forming a joint venture c-Si solar cell plant in China with JA Solar. The phase one (250MW) production facility will be located at JA Solar's Yangzhou site, and is expected to begin commercial production in the second half of 2011. Without giving timelines, the target is to ramp capacity to 1GW. Financial details were also not disclosed.

“This milestone agreement is further proof of the success of our focus on being the leading provider of value-added tolling technology and production solutions,” noted Dr. Peng Fang, CEO of JA Solar. “By choosing to partner with JA Solar, we believe that MEMC recognizes the value we offer, and the support we provide to our partners' growth strategies. We expect that this alliance will further enhance the sustainability and profitability of our business over the long term.”

Ken Hannah, president of MEMC Solar Materials, commented, “Building on our several years of successful strategic cooperation, JA Solar was an ideal choice as our partner for this project. With its manufacturing capability, industry-leading cost structure and clear understanding of MEMC's business objectives, I'm confident that JA Solar will play a vital role in the success of this joint venture.”

MEMC was, until a few years ago, dedicated to wafer production for both semiconductor and solar sectors, though it outsourced wafering operations until cost competitive issues forced the polysilicon producer to bring greater levels of wafering in-house.

MEMC also acquired SunEdison to move downstream into project development and teamed with Chinese module suppliers for some of its module requirements for PV projects.

The 50:50 JV with JA Solar closes a key whole in its migration to offer a fully integrated business offering from polysilicon production through to installation, which has only been achieved by the likes of REC in recent years. Others are following this trend as companies attempt to drive costs from the supply chain.

Rather than fund the full burden of expansions, MEMC has preferred to team with strategic partners to achieve its fully integrated goals. 

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