China’s JinkoSolar the world’s fourth-largest supplier of solar PV modules has this week unveiled its first module manufacturing plant outside of China.
The 120 MW facility in Cape Town, South Africa, cost R80 million ($7.4 million) to build and will create 250 direct jobs in the local economy. With a daily production rate of 1,300 solar panels a day, the facility marks a decisive first step into the African manufacturing market for Jinko Solar, following in the footsteps of JA Solar and inverter company ABB in setting up shop on the Cape.
Helen Zille, Western Cape premier, welcomed the opening of the facility, adding that the provincial government has forged a partnership with a local technology higher education institution that will send students to China to learn more about solar panel manufacturing and maintenance.
South Africa’s trade and industries minister Rob Davies also spoke of his support for JinkoSolar’s presence in the country, adding that the government had helped ease the bureaucratic burden to enable to company to set up shop in South Africa.
The country’s domestic content laws have often muddied the waters for investors into South Africa’s solar power industry, often rising to as much as 45% before bids for tenders under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Program (REIPPP) can be successful. A local manufacturing plant such as this helps navigate these regulations, and is likely to spur rapid solar PV installations in the country in the near term.