Module manufacturer Suntech appears to have rowed back on plans to establish a manufacturing hub in South Africa.
In July 2014, the company unveiled a new subsidiary to serve the African market with the potential for a local manufacturing presence.
Then CEO Eric Luo said: “Given the country's dedication to growing renewable energies, Suntech is exploring the potential of locating manufacturing, assembly and warehousing facilities as well as offering after-sales services in the market. This would enable Suntech to quickly supply a greater volume of PV modules to meet growing demand and serve as a gateway to additional markets in the region.”
However, in a statement released on Monday, the company only committed to warehousing.
“The opening of a local warehouse in Cape Town will allow Suntech to increase its sales capacity in South Africa, and in the South African Development Community, which serves as a free trade zone,” said Joey Zheng, regional director, Africa and South Asia, Suntech. “We are also eliminating the effort involved in the PV modules shipping and importation procedure, which will help our customers to better plan their project schedules,” added Zheng.
The warehouse will initially have a 500kW capacity with plans to expand that to 1MW later in the year.
“With a growing number of sales to larger scale projects, we will now be able to assure that all of our customers will have their products within 24 hours after purchase, whereas previously it took 40 days for modules to be delivered from China,” claimed Zheng.
PV Tech asked Suntech for confirmation of the status of its plans to establish a manufacturing base in the country and was awaiting a response at the time of press.
The company also said in the statement that it had recently delivered 100MW of modules for two projects under the first round of the country’s renewable energy independent power producer programme (REIPPP). The contracts were announced in 2012 and were connected in April 2014.
Delays to the most recent round of the REIPPP led the country's trade group to raise concerns about the impact any indecision from the government could have on investment appetite in the region.