Trina Solar refutes reports of Malaysian fab rejection

pv magazine has learnt that reports in the local Malaysian media, and picked up today by some sections of the U.K. press, that Trina Solar has had plans rejected for a Malaysian solar panel facility are inaccurate.

Trina Solar’s head of investor relations Yvonne Young has told pv magazine that the company is aware of the reports but is unsure as to which specific application the various articles are referring to.

"We [Trina Solar] do not currently have any active applications to set up manufacturing facilities, nor do we have any plans in the immediate future to set up any facilities in Malaysia."

The various reports had suggested that Malaysia’s Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) COO Datu Dr Ali Askar Sher Mohamad had turned down an application from Trina Solar to make PV cells in the country, claiming that Malaysia would not be turned into a "dumping hub".

"We are proactively monitoring to ensure companies do not use Malaysia as a trans-shipment hub by importing panels from China and so-called assembling the final products here by adding minor accessories and a Made in Malaysia stamp," Sher Mahamad told The Malaysian Reserve.

According to Trina Solar’s Young, the company’s current activities in Malaysia remain a cooperative arrangement with a local original equipment manufacturer (OEM). "Trina supplies the components that are ultimately assembled into a solar panel," Young said. "This cooperation business model has been running smoothly for well over a number of years for the local partner, which was legally registered and is in full compliance with local laws and regulations."

Young explained to pv magazine that the local partner has already shipped modules on schedule, and that Trina Solar is "unaware of any disruptions to the business."

"Furthermore," added Young, "this local company also services a number of other global solar module manufacturers, not just Trina Solar."

In May it was revealed that Trina Solar is to build a major new production facility in Thailand, totaling 700 MW cell and 500 MW module capacity, as part of a trend for Chinese solar producers to shift manufacturing capacity to Southeast Asian countries in an effort to avoid stinging trade barriers affecting exports to both the U.S. and the European Union.

"The Thailand facility is very different from Malaysia because Thailand is our self-developed capacity whereas Malaysia is OEM capacity that is owned by our Malaysian local partner, not Trina Solar," explained Young. "Therefore, we never announce any of our OEM/facility leasing partners regardless of China or overseas partners as a rule, since we have a number of partners globally. We do not treat the Malaysian partner as a special case."

Fellow China Tier 1 solar producer JinkoSolar has set up a manufacturing facility in Malaysia, which began production of solar cells and modules in May.