Trina Solar adding 420MW in solar cell capacity with JV



Tier one PV manufacturer, Trina Solar, is acquiring a majority shareholding in Hubei Hongyuan PV Science and Technology, a solar cell producer in China.

Trina Solar said it would form a joint venture with Shenzhen S.C. New Energy Technology Corporation, the owner of Hubei Hongyuan PV Science and Technology, taking a 51% stake in the solar cell producer with the operations renamed as Hubei Trina Solar Co., Ltd.

The partners said that the existing production facilities would be expanded to a capacity of 420 MW by mid-2014.

Jifan Gao, chairman and CEO of Trina Solar said: “Shenzhen S.C. and Hubei Hongyuan have extensive and proven experience in manufacturing superior quality solar equipment and products, respectively. This acquisition will provide Trina Solar with the benefit of greater access to solar cell manufacturing capacity and at a low cost of capital.”

Trina Solar did not say what the 51% acquisition costs were or provide further financial information.

However, as with the recent acquisition by JinkoSolar of insolvent Haining-based Topoint, which provided the company with 500MW of cell and 500MW of wafer capacity plus 100MW of module capacity, the acquisition costs were expected to be very low but provided instant access to significant new capacity.

“During 2013, Trina Solar was ranked second for module shipments and third for cell production according to recent analysis by NPD Solarbuzz,” said Finlay Colville, vice president of the market research firm to PV Tech. “The announcement today by Trina Solar to add significant cell capacity, not module capacity, is the first strong sign that effective capacity at the cell level is in alignment with the pro-rated annual demand of 45GW now.”

Trina Solar had 2,400MW of in-house solar cell production at the beginning of 2014, while having 2,800MW of in-house PV module capacity, generating a 400MW shortfall of cell capacity.

“Previously, Chinese tier one module suppliers had been adding new module capacity, or increasing the scope of third-party OEM supply deals, in order to increase shipment levels,” added Colville. “The announcement from Trina is effectively calling out for 400MW of new c-Si cell capacity by the middle of 2014, and this takes us one step closer to the strong pickup in PV capex being forecast for 2015, when gigawatt fab expansions are expected to become the norm.”

Major capacity expansion plans have also been touted by SunPower, though its plans are for smaller-scale expansion (350MW) in the short term and 1GW-scale in 2015 or later.

“The scale and the speed of the capacity addition is another sign that gigawatt level capacity from the Chinese leaders – whether located in China or Southeast Asia – can happen within a matter of months. This provides a stark reminder to SunPower and First Solar that in a rapidly growing end market, those that can add capacity quickly will benefit quickly in terms of market-share gain,” said Colville.

The market researcher also said that he expected Trina Solar to make further major capacity expansion announcements soon as well as other tier one competitors such as Yingli Green.

The expansions are being driven by strong demand in China, Japan and the US as well as an increasing number of emerging markets globally that are adding significant megawatts of new PV installations. Several recent reports from NPD Solarbuzz and Deutsche Bank put global end market demand in 2014 at nearly 50GW, up from early assessments of 36GW of demand seen in 2013.

The acquisitions by JinkoSolar and Trina Solar also point to onoing consolidation of suppliers, notably in China.

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