Chinese sustainable energy company GCL System Integration is planning to build what would be the world’s largest solar PV module factory, capable of producing 60GW of solar panels each year.
Bloomberg News reported on March 29, citing “a filing to the Shenzhen stock exchange on March 27,” that GCL System Integration was planning to invest 18 billion yuan ($A4.1 billion) of its own funds and loans to construct a new solar panel manufacturing plant in the eastern Chinese Hefei province that will be able to produce 60GW of solar panels per year.
If plans proceed as announced, the new solar manufacturing plant means big plans ahead for China’s solar industry.
While it suffered dramatically from Government policy failures and uncertainty in 2019, China installed a still respectable 30GW of new solar capacity – following 52.83GW installed in 2017 and 44.3GW installed in 2018. As such, the planned solar plant would be able to supply to almost 51% of global solar installations, according to Bloomberg, and boost GCL System’s ability to produce solar panels from 7.2GW more than nine-fold.
In comparison, the world’s currently biggest solar panel manufacturer, JinkoSolar, has 16GW of manufacturing capacity.
GCL System will apparently spend 5 billion yuan ($A1.15 billion) on the first phase of the project which will result in 15GW of production capacity – more than tripling the company’s current production capacity. The project would then proceed along three subsequent phases with timing based on sales and utilisation of the facility.
According to Bloomberg, interpreting the Chinese-language filing, GCL System is looking to capitalise on opportunities emerging in China resulting from solar power costs falling to near that of coal power, as well as opportunities to meet demand for the new type of larger solar PV panels.
GCL System’s plan to so dramatically increase its production capacity is not unsurprising, and falls in line with a larger trend within the largest Chinese solar producers to increase production capacity – even in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic.
The expansions are part of a strategy, especially of larger companies, “to block rivals from adding new capacity,” said Robin Xiao, an analyst at CMB International Securities, as quoted by Bloomberg News in early March.
Many, if not most, of the expansion plans were obviously in place before the coronavirus outbreak, and the plans for China’s solar development are based on long-term expectations rather than short-term hits, such as that being suffered at the moment.
According to Bloomberg, thirteen Chinese firms are planning to add at least 40GW of annual capacity for the production of ingots, wafers, and cells, by the end of the year.