Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Limited has unveiled a new 72 cell photovoltaic module, the YGE-U 72 Cell, at this year's Solar Power International in Orlando, Florida. Designed specifically to supply the North American utility-scale solar market, it has been certified by Underwriters Laboratories for a maximum system voltage rating of 1,000V.
Brian Grenko, Yingli Americas’ Director of Operations told pv magazine the new modules will be manufactured at the company’s headquarters in Baoding, China. He declined to divulge the capacity at which they will be produced, but said that Yingli’s overall annual manufacturing volume is 2.45 GW.
While the modules will be produced in China, to avoid potential tariffs in the U.S., Grenko said the company is procuring its cells from "top tier" manufacturers outside of China. He added that no new investments in manufacturing equipment were made for the modules.
In a statement released, Yingli claimed its new module helps to lower balance of system costs since it employs less wire runs and combiner boxes. Furthermore, it said its linear performance warranty will apply to the new modules – available in both the U.S. and Canada – which are compatible with Array Technologies’ single-axis solar tracking systems.
According to Yingli chairman and CEO, Liangsheng Miao, the North American solar market and, specifically, the utility-scale segment, is a "strategic priority" for the Chinese photovoltaic module manufacturer. Robert Petrina, MD of Yingli Green Energy Americas, added, "Industry analysts predict up to 60% growth in the North American utility-scale solar market by 2013. By introducing the YGE-U 72 Cell Series, Yingli Americas is positioned to take first-mover advantage of this growth."
Grenko could not disclose specific details, but did tell pv magazine that Yingli has some "major" supply contracts coming up in the U.S. He added that in H1 2012, the company supplied over 180 MW of modules to the Americas, which he says, represents around 10 to 15% of the current market share.
He continued, "In North America, Yingli Solar modules are deployed to over 23 states, Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. Our major customers include, but are not limited to, Recurrent Energy, Gehrlicher, Mercury Solar, Borrego Solar, Swinerton Construction, SolarCity, Verengo Solar, and Soligent. We are specifically focused on the solar market in California, Arizona, and the Southwest for utility-scale projects, but we also have significant projects in the Northeast."
Responding to how easy it is for a Chinese company to operate in the U.S. and if the company has plans to manufacture in the region, he said, "We have not encountered major objections due to the fact that we are a Chinese company. With offices in New York and San Francisco, as well as a state-of-the art research and development facility in South San Francisco, Yingli can provide customers in the Americas with superior service and support. We have no current plans to set up a manufacturing facility in the U.S."
Like many major players, including South Korea’s Hanwha and Germany’s Solon, Yingli has not only set its sights on the North American market, but also intends to expand into Latin America. "Yingli is actively expanding into Latin America and … supplies solar modules to the region through our regional subsidiaries in Brazil, Chile, and Mexico," explained Grenko.
He continued, "Yingli’s sponsorship of the FIFA World Cup has helped drive brand awareness throughout Latin America, so we are focusing our efforts on supplying football stadiums with solar modules in addition to supplying large-scale industrial applications, such as mining. One example is the Estadio do Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil."
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