SPI 2014: Yingli Green to partner on module assembly plant in Brazil

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Latin America has become Yingli Green’s key near-term focus as an emerging market, with plans to partner in Brazil to operate a PV module assembly plant. 

Speaking at Yingli Green’s annual analyst event, held on the first exhibition day of Solar Power International, Robert Petrina vice president of sales and managing director of Yingli Green America, said that servicing key markets of Chile, Mexico and Brazil had become a “commitment” of the company. 

Petrina noted in his presentation to the investor community that Brazil’s national development bank, BNDES, had included new local content requirements for solar projects to access very low interest rate project finance on the back of planned reverse (LER) auction’s for PV that are being held at the end of October, 2014. 

To be competitive and a chance of winning bids in Brazil, module assembly at least would be required. Petrina added that “We will have to house local manufacturing in Brazil.”

According to the Yingli Green executive, negotiations on partnering with a local firm were well developed. 

However, both Chile and Mexico were also very attractive to the company as the markets were becoming increasingly open to business for PV. Mexico was picked out by Petrina for having plans to target installations of around 38GW by 2024 and that PV retail grid parity in the country had already been effectively reached. This would lay the foundation for strong growth in demand for PV in the coming years. 

Less optimism was displayed in discussing the MENA region. Petrina noted that countries such as Jordan were leading the way but that major potential markets such as Saudi Arabia could still take a few more years to build meaningful momentum. 

Huge US demand

With respect to the US, Petrina said that the pending ITC cuts were generating “huge demand” for PV that would mean the US could compete with China for the largest market ahead of the ITC cuts in 2017. 

Petrina said that there was even a new wave of US utility sector interest in PV that would push demand in the country higher. 

However, the recent US anti-dumping ruling had made Yingli Green more cautious about its ability to capitalise and expand its shipments in the country. 

Although stable module pricing had been beneficial to the company, duties meant that Yingli Green would have to adopt a measured approach to module supply as margins would be wafer thin. 

The impression given by Petrina was that the company was being forced to be highly selective in its shipments levels and to which customers on the back of margin issues. 

The executive was hopeful that some kind of agreement could still be reached with US agencies before year-end that could resolve key elements of the latest anti-dumping ruling obstacles to Chinese manufacturer’s ability to meet the huge demand in the US.

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