China’s JinkoSolar Holding Co. announced the opening of a new European branch in Zug, Switzerland last week, the latest move by Chinese PV manufacturers to expand their operations globally. Sharp drops in solar PV system materials and components have supported ongoing growth in Europe’s PV market, but the rate of growth has slowed and the outlook is clouded by an economic slowdown as austerity measures enacted to address persistent budget and debt problems constrain economic growth.
With its manufacturing based in Jiangxi and Zhejiang provinces, Jinko has sales and marketing offices in Munich, San Francisco and Bologna, Italy. Management is expanding capacity of it’s 1.1 gigawatt (GW) ‘vertically integrated value chain’ of PV products, which includes silicon ingots, wafers, solar PV cells and solar PV modules, to 1.5GW, which it expects to reach by year-end.
Chinese solar PV manufacturers are pursuing a strategy of trying to capture market share by scaling up operations and increasing supply while cutting prices. Global demand for polysilicon, the raw material used to produce solar PV cells, is growing at 3x the rate two of Asia’s largest producers are expanding, according to a recent research report, which forecast that Chinese PV producers will capture around 42% of the market this year.
Jinko clearly sees some promise in Europe’s PV market despite the difficult times. “In recent years, JinkoSolar has cemented itself as one of the most trustworthy partners across Europe. This success can be largely attributed to the company’s commitment to ensuring that our customers have a reliable, local support team available,” said Mr. Xiande Li, JinkoSolar chairman.
“To this end, we are pleased to announce the opening of our new branch in Switzerland. The Zug region has a stellar reputation due to its favorable business climate, and we are looking forward to establishing operations in this region to enhance our customers’ experiences in the European market.”
Major support for renewable energy in Europe continues to come from Germany, which is working to replace all its 17 nuclear power plants, which currently supply more than 20% of the country’s electrical power, with renewables by 2022.
In July, Jinko announced that it will be supplying Germany’s Photon Power AG up to 2.84MW for the first phase of solar PV projects the latter has planned. In April, management signed an agreement to supply Austria’s Bull PowerTech Gmbh 50MW of solar modules.
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