Phono Solar and Sybac Solar sign strategic agreement

25. April 2012 | Markets & Trends, Global PV markets | By:  Jonathan Gifford

Chinese module producer, Phono Solar and German EPC, Sybac Solar signed a 500 megawatt (MW) strategic supply agreement at the vast Hannover Messe industry trade show yesterday. The agreement underpinned a broader theme prominent at the diverse trade show, which was the cooperation between Chinese and German firms.

Two men shaking hands.

The Sino-German partnership could provide a model for the future.

The strategic agreement between the two and will see the state-owned Phono supply 500 MW of modules to Sybac, over a five-year period. Sybac is an EPC specializing in utility-scale installations and large commercial rooftops. Sybac intends to develop photovoltaic projects primarily in Germany under the agreement.

"It’s a strategic sign to the market," Roland Menken from Phono Solar Germany said to pv magazine. "It shows our common interest to a strategic, long-term cooperation." Christian Rautenberg, CEO of Sybac Solar AG added, "It shows our trust in the future."

Phono has a production capacity of approximately 450 MW per year and it completed a new fab towards the end of 2011. At present, it has around 700 MW in the field, with 130 MW of these having been installed by Sybac in Europe.

With this track record, both companies believe that bankability is not an issue. "We have some banks which have provided the finance," Rautenberg explained. 

In a period of intense price competition, Phono’s Menken was also keen to point out that the company is not involved in a "race to the bottom" in terms of pricing, but rather values investment in innovation and the ability to service 25-year warranties in the future. "We can say that we are competitive on price, of course we have to," said Menken, "but we are not the cheapest or the most expensive."

Sybac has plans to install 175 MW of new capacity in 2012, with that number expanding to 200 MW in coming years. Rautenberg said that the company is not interested in constructing projects for them then to be onsold, but rather to sell the energy from the installations themselves. "We are really close to grid parity. We have a strategy to sell our current out of the EEG." Rautenberg said that local municipalities and businesses are prospective buyers of the electricity.

Phono and Sybac are not only looking to develop projects in Germany however. Rautenberg indicated that 10 or 15 percent of the modules supplied to them by Phono, could go to markets such as the U.S. or France.

China is also of interest and the Sino-German partnership may indicate to other firms how to access China’s emerging downstream market. Cai Jibo, the President of Phono Solar told pv magazine that by partnering with Chinese suppliers, European developers and EPCs could find a place in the market.

"Yes there are lots of projects installed in China, but frankly the quality of the power plant and technology integrated into the power plant is not good enough," said Cai Jibo candidly. "So I think the performance is not as good as in Europe, including key componenets like inverters and also the integration technology. So I am sure there is lots of space for partner cooperation like Phono Solar and Sybac."


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