China’s Tongwei to Spend $1.8 Billion on Solar-Cell Factories

Tongwei Co. plans to spend 12 billion yuan ($1.8 billion) to build two solar-cell factories that would make the Chinese firm the world’s biggest manufacturer of products that generate electricity from the sun. The company’s Tongwei Solar Energy (Hefei) unit will set up one plant in the eastern city of Hefei and a second in the southwestern city of Chengdu, each with an annual production capacity of 10 gigawatts, its parent said in a Nov. 6 statement on the website of the Shanghai stock exchange.

 The investment is part of Tongwei’s plan to achieve 30 gigawatts of cell capacity. Its current 5.4 gigawatts makes Tongwei the world’s fourth-biggest solar-cell producer, and the company has an additional 4.3 gigawatts of capacity under construction. The world’s largest cell maker, Shanghai-based JA Solar Holdings Co., has an annual capacity of 6.5 gigawatts, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Tongwei’s plants will focus on unmanned intelligent manufacturing of high-efficiency monocrystalline silicon solar cells, according to the statement. The rapid expansion of such products could challenge the market next year, said Jiang Yali, a BNEF analyst in Hong Kong. “Whether Tongwei will carry out its plan in the short term is unknown,” she said. The projects are expected to gradually start operation in three to five years, based on market demand, Tongwei said. Once completed, they’re projected to boost the company’s annual revenue by as much as 24 billion yuan.

Sources: Bloomberg