Trina Solar has announced its intention to construct a 700 MW cell and 500 MW module production facility in Thailand. Trina will invest US$160m on the factory building and tooling, with production at the site set to commence in late 2015 or early 2016.
The trend of Chinese cell and module manufacturers adding capacity in Southeast Asia continues to gain momentum, with Trina the latest to announce a new facility. Trina will establish the subsidiary Trina Solar Science and Technology in Thailand for its new operations.
“Thailand is an ideal location for us to build a new manufacturing base due to its proximity to key emerging markets in the Asia Pacific region as well as its favorable investment environment in terms of land acquisition and labor costs,” said Zhiguo Zhu, COO and president of module business unit of Trina Solar.
“We believediversifying our global manufacturing capacity will allow us to better leverage resources more cost effectively, enhance our competitiveness in overseas markets and enable us to increase our global market share.”
Major drivers behind the Chinese manufacturers move into Southeast Asia are the trade barriers currently affecting their exports to both the EU and U.S.
“Thailand is also a particularly attractive PV market given its sunny environment, long-term PV subsidies, and favorable government policies towards the solar sector,” said Zhiguo Zhu.
Thailand’s PV market has shown positive momentum of late, despite the political turmoil that has plagued the country. BNEF figures show that Thailand saw annual installations grow from around 450 MW in 2013 to a predicted 600 MW in 2015.
In the region Malaysia has become a major PV manufacturing hub for manufacturers including First Solar, Hanwha Q Cells and JinkoSolar. In Malaysia manufacturers can avail themselves of a 10-year tax holiday making it an additionally attractive location.
There is, however, growing sentiment that manufacturers operating in Malaysia may end up becoming embroiled in similar trade disputes to those that have affected Chinese and Taiwanese solar cell and module exports. There have been informal reports that rival manufacturers, such as SolarWorld, have begun investigations as to the validity of anti-dumping and other similar claims could be raised in international trade bodies as a result of the Malaysian subsidies.
Trina expects its Thailand production site to begin turning out cells and modules towards the end of this year or early next.