China Sunergy opens PV module factory in Turkey

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The solar module line located in the outskirts of the Turkish capital, has a production capacity of 120 MW and is currently the largest of its kind in the country. CSUN will expand the facility’s production capacity to 300 MW by the end of the year the latest, according to Steve Shen, CSUN Eurasia chairman.

At present time, just modules are being produced but cell manufacturing could start within the next months. But this will depend on the European Union’s decision on the anti-dumping import duties for Chinese solar products.

Another business aspect that still has to be decided is the production of wafers and ingots, according to Jonathan Pickering, Vice-President of Global Business Development & Marketing. This will strongly depend on the demands and needs of target markets such as Saudi Arabia, which are supposed to be supplied by the Turkish CSUN factory.

Most of the module production plant in Tuzla is still manually operated, as it could be observed during the press visit. In comparison to the CSUN facility in China, the level of automation at this factory is slightly higher to help reduce costs and ensure quality, Chen said.

However, production costs at the Tuzla factory are "somewhat higher" than in China due to labor costs and the currently low production capacity, among other reasons, Pickering told pv magazine. But the additional costs will be balanced with lower transport costs and faster delivery times to neighboring markets. And, depending on the EU’s decision, the Chinese company could avoid paying anti-dumping duties on imports.

Currently, more than 85% of the plant’s production is export-oriented, CSUN Europe spokeswoman Andrea Bodenhagen said. This is a requirement to be able to produce in the Trade Free Zone with all the benefits coming from tax savings, as well as the use of foreign currencies in payment transactions.

"We already have plans to build a factory in a neighboring Industrial Zone, to be able to supply the booming Turkish market," Bodenhagen added.

Nonetheless, CSUN’s project pipeline totaling 64 MW – large-scale plants of over one MW – still has to go through a tendering process, which will start in mid-June. CSUN Eurasia and Seul, a local partner, founded a project investment company, in order to position itself early in this market.

Finally, Turkish energy minister Taner Yildiz expressed his support for the local photovoltaic industry during his opening address at the Tuzla factory. He emphasized the economic and ecological importance of this energy source for the country’s development. Yildiz sees great potential in large-scale parks, as well as small and medium-sized rooftop installations. As a result of this, he expects between three and four GW of new production capacity in the next three to four years.

Translated and edited by Vera von Kreutzbruck.