PV Expo: Trina CEO says Japan key to “smart energy” rollout

pv magazine: How significant is Japan to Trina’s operations?

Jifan Gao: The Japanese market remains one of the most important markets for Trina Solar. This is because of the market size and secondly as the Japanese market is one in which we can show our latest technology and new products with high technology. The Japanese customer is looking for high quality with a high level of after sales service. So we are going to capitalize on this to deliver quality products and after sales service, including high efficiency modules and other new products.

What in particular about after sales service are you referring to?

In terms of the after sales service, I refer not only to the panel, but to the system and the different component parts, which Trina Solar will supply in the future.

The PV power plant market in Japan is still a major opportunity. Do you continue to be active in this space?

There are three market segments for us: One is panel supply and it remains the basic product and is the main job for us in serving the market. Second is the system business that we sell as a package, including panel and inverter and racking system. The third one is that we also play the role as a developer of utility scale projects.

What is ownership model for your PV plant business?

Up until now, we own 100% of the PV power plants we develop. For the power plant projects in China, Trina will develop them, own them and sell the electricity back to the utility companies. In overseas markets, Trina will look to sell the project some time after completion. So Trina has two different models.

There has been a lot of movement in the area of forming yieldcos to spin off solar farms. Is that something that Trina is considering?

Looking at markets for Trina, first of all is China, then the U.S. market, the third one is the Japanese market and then the European market. For the development of power plants Trina has not completed a sufficient volume of investment at that scale [to create a yieldco]. In overseas markets [for Trina as a project developer], first is China, then the UK, and then Japan.

Trina continues to expand its manufacturing operations and was the largest module supplier by volume in 2014. Are capacity expansions going to continue?

Yes. The target is to be number one in the production of modules and to be in the first tier as a project developer. Trina will also enter the smart energy solution provider [segment]. And the Japanese market is the first one for the smart energy market.

China’s NEA has announced a goal of 15 GW for new installed PV capacity in 2015. However the 2014 goals were not met. How confident are you that the 15 GW will be met this year?

The targets set by the Chinese government in 2015 will be reached. Because the different provinces had different target numbers, some projects started late in 2014. Also in September last year, all of the regulations were not entirely clear. But starting 2015, information will be clearer, provinces know what their target is and in my opinion 15 GW can be reached.

The Chinese target is divided into two parts, utility scale and distributed generation (DG). In 2014, most of the target for DG was not reached. In 2015 the DG system market is going to increase and the policy will stimulate this. For DG, industrial rooftops are important.