Trina confirms 2 GW Indian fab plans

The trend towards major cell and module manufacturing capacity expansions continues. The latest joining the capacity-adding race is China’s Trina Solar, which has confirmed that it is moving towards developing a major new facility in India, under a joint venture.

Trina confirmed to pv magazine today that it intends to develop a 2 GW cell and module facility with a local partner in India. In a statement, Trina indicated that the 2 GW scale is "only a draft plan, and the capacity will be built in various phases."

"We are still evaluating the final capacity scale and timetable, as well as the ownership structure," the statement from Trina reads.

Trina is not willing to provide further details, until a final agreement with the as yet unnamed local partner is locked in and contracts signed.

The motivation behind the Indian fab for Trina appears relatively clear. The Indian market itself is showing strong signs of growth, and with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s desire to see domestic manufacturing realized, it seems a good strategic fit. Furthermore, ongoing solar trade disputes between Chinese and Taiwanese manufactures and the U.S. and EU end markets, make module manufacturing in India appear attractive.

In an investment note issued today, Forbes too noted the attractiveness of supplying the Indian market, noting the expected market growth from 1 GW in 2014 to 2.7 GW in 2015. Furthermore, the moves by the Modi government to increase its solar goals to 100 GW by 2022 indicates that a stable, long term PV market is likely to evolve.

Forbes also writes favorably about India as a manufacturing location. It notes policy incentives, low labor costs and proximity to China as presenting major advantages.

"The hourly labor cost in India for manufacturing averages US$0.92, compared with $3.52 in China, according to Boston Consulting Group. That said, there could also be challenges. China’s historical cost leadership in solar manufacturing was partly driven by supply chain developments and the country’s vibrant manufacturing ecosystem. However, solar equipment manufacturing in India remains in its infancy (module manufacturing capacity stands at under 3 GW vs. over 40 GW for China)."

Forbes put Trina likely investment in the Indian manufacturing fab at $500 million. Trina has previously announced plans to construct a $160 million, 700 MW cell and 500 MW fab in Thailand.