Yingli forms $160 million downstream PV development fund

China’s Yingli Solar took another giant stride downstream today with the announcement that the company – the world’s largest vertically-integrated PV module manufacturer – has jointly created a $160 million (CNY 1 billion) Renewable Energy Fund designed for investment in solar energy projects throughout China.

Cooperating in the agreement is Shanghai Sailing Capita Management Co., Ltd, a private investment fund based in Shanghai. Yingli will contribute to and control a 51% stake in the fund, with capital contributions made over several installments. Primarily, the fund will be used to invest in Yingli’s solar PV projects, with both parties taking an active role in the Fund’s management.

"Renewable energy is emerging as a strategic industry in China and around the world, and the PV segment in particular has great prospects for future development,” said Sailing Capital’s fund manager, Xiaodong Liu. "As China’s first large, cross-border RMB private equity fund, Sailing Capital is pleased to join a PV industry leader in Yingli.

"The Fund, which will initially focus on ground-mounted solar power plant and distributed solar power generation system investments, marks the beginning of the two companies’ comprehensive cooperation through capital and industrial resource sharing."

Yingli’s chief strategy officer, Bryan Li, added: "We are delighted to partner with Sailing Capital, a leading RMB private equity fund with robust funding resources, to accelerate our footprint in the downstream solar energy market.

"As a long-term strategic repositioning, this cooperation is a solid step toward our transition from a PV manufacturer to a renewable energy solutions provider. By securing a priority right in investing in Yingli Green Energy’s downstream solar projects, we should be also be able to seek more sources of investment in solar PV projects, while at the same time minimizing potential risks."

Much like JinkoSolar, Yingli has stepped up its efforts to deliver a more diversified solar service to its customers, broadening its investments to cover the growing downstream sector. Earlier this week the company also announced a deal with United Photovoltaic Group (United PV), which will see the solar giants acquire PV plants with a combined capacity of 300 MW across China.

These latest announcements come just days after Yingli revealed poorer-than-expected financial results for the first quarter of the year. Preliminary reports from the company suggest that Q1 module shipment volumes have contracted by as much as 30% since the final quarter of 2013.