Trina Solar’s purchase of cells from Solland Solar in doubt with supplier bankruptcy

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According to Dutch media reports, Heerlen, Netherlands based solar cell producer, Solland Solar, a subsidiary of Italian industrial firm Pufin Group, has filed for bankruptcy protection.

The small cell producer has had a chequered past but last year the company announced a small incremental increase in capacity to meet demand that was recently followed by a 200MW-plus supply deal with leading global PV manufacturer, Trina Solar.

A deal only struck in July 2015 with Trina Solar provided the Chinese producer with access to multicrystalline solar cells from a European supplier that would circumvent US anti-dumping duties on imports from China. The deal, the first Trina Solar had signed with a European solar cell producer, included options to expand the supply quantities after July 2016.

Pufin Group said in a statement regarding the solar cell supply agreement that capacity at Solland Solar would be expanded from 180MW per annum to more than 300MW, adding a further 100 jobs at the solar cell plant. 

Trina Solar has been shipping the most PV modules into the US market in the first half of 2016 compared to any other China-based module manufacturer, totalling 525MW. 

The company is establishing a manufacturing plant in Thailand with 700MW of solar cell capacity and 500MW of module capacity to circumvent US anti-dumping duties, primarily for 2016 onwards. 

Its major rival, JinkoSolar, shipped 284.5MW of modules to the US from China in the first half of 2015. However, the company has already established and started shipping modules from a new cell and module plant in Malaysia that is expected to ramp fully in the second half of the year, providing JinkoSolar with around 400MW of modules for the US market that circumvent US anti-dumping duties. 

Due to the high tariffs and up-front duty payments, module shipments to the US from China factories impact gross margins and have a drain on cash flows ahead of receivables, forcing a number of Chinese producers to limit shipment exposure to the US, or simply curtail shipments altogether. 

Trina Solar’s solar cell supply deal with Solland Solar would have reduced the company’s exposure to gross margin and financial pressures, especially being the most exposed to the problem in 2015. 

No details regarding the reasons behind Solland Solar’s bankruptcy have been forthcoming, however reports noted that a Dutch court had appointed a local insolvency administrator Adelmeijer Hoyng Advocaten, with requests for creditors to file claims before the end of September, 2015. 

Another Pufin Group subsidiary, Elifrance a PV module assembly firm in Saint-Etienne, France also recently filed for bankruptcy protection. 

Pufin Group had also acquired a shuttered polysilicon plant from SunEdison in Merano, Italy in late 2014, which had an annual production potential of 4,800MT that was planned to restart production in September 2015. 

PV Tech has contacted Pufin Group and Trina Solar for comment on the bankruptcy and solar cell supply deal.

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