Penang government defends JinkoSolar factory approval

Penang government officials have dismissed as “malicious”, “baseless” and “distorted” accusations that it was in the wrong for approving Chinese manufacturer JinkoSolar’s new PV manufacturing facility in the state. An opposition party Parti Cinta Malaysia official raised the concerns, pointing to the 2011 fluoride leak from a Jinko facility and subsequent villager protests.

Confusingly, and incorrectly, Parti Cinta Malaysia vice president Huan Cheng Guan said: “It is not okay for the (JinkoSolar) plant to be in China but it is okay for [Penang chief minister] Lim Guan Eng to allow the plant to operate in Batu Kawan [in Penang]. Can he guarantee the safety of residents in Batu Kawan?”

Jinko will continue to operate its Chinese production facilities, with the Penang fab representing a production capacity expansion. It is the first time the Chinese company has added PV cell manufacturing capacity outside of China. It reports that cells with an efficiency of around 18.5% will roll off its Malaysian lines.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said he would not “waste time” responding to the opposition party claims, in reporting from Portalkini.net. However the chief minister’s political secretary Wong Hon Wai did elaborate further.

“They [comments from Parti Cinta Malaysia’s Huan] were made with the malicious intention to damage collaboration between the federal (Mida and Department of Environment) and state governments in attracting investment to Penang,” said Wong.

JinkoSolar has invested US$100 million in the Penang cell and module fab. The company’s CEO said that it took less than six months to construct and fit out the Penang facility.

“Malaysia offers us talent pool of highly educated workers and engineers, relatively advanced industry infrastructure, a receptive business investment climate, cost competitive environment,” said Jinko’s Kangping Chen. “In return, we bring our latest technology and manufacturing excellence know-how and expertise, our experienced management team helping to cultivate local talents, and our capital as well.”

Jinko joins a growing list of PV manufacturers turning to Malaysia as a production site. Hanwha Q Cells, First Solar, CSun and Renesola all have facilities in the country. There are growing indications that producers with facilities in Malaysia may be dragged into global solar trade disputes, with the European Commission last week extending its inquiries into whether tariffs have been avoided by Chinese producers by using Malaysia as a source for exports into the European Union.