China's Longi to invest $235m in 1 GW Indian solar fab

Chinese solar cell and wafer maker Longi Silicon has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government of Indian state Andhra Pradesh for the construction of a solar cell and module manufacturing facility to the tune of 1.5 billion yuan ($235 million).

The initial phase of the investment should see the creation of around 1,000 jobs in the state, with Longi confirming that the total final investment could increase eight-fold, creating an additional 4,000 jobs as the state pulls its weight towards achieveing the National Solar Mission’s (JNNSM) target of installing 100 GW of solar PV capacity by 2022.

Longi chairman Baoshen Zhong signed the MoU with Andhra Pradesh energy, infrastructure and investment secretarys Ajay Jain.

In a press conference held to mark the occasion, Zhong said: "We will invest $250 million for setting up a solar cell and module manufacturing facility in Andhra Pradesh. This will boost production of clean energy equipment in the country."

Andhra Pradesh’s Jain added: "This investment will boost manufacturing facilities in the state. This initial investment will create 1,000 jobs." Part of the stipulations outlined in the JNNSM is to increase the share of solar components made locally, thus complying with India’s domestic content requirement.

A number of leading U.S. and Chinese solar firms have already opened or announced manufacturing capacities in India in order to gain an early toehold in what is expected to become a world-leading solar hub, both in terms of installation figures and manufacturing.

The Longi facility will ultimately have the capacity to produce 1 GW of solar cells and 1 GW of solar modules. The company also confirmed the MoU covers the creation of a 500 MW solar farm, to be located in Sri City, Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. State chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu assuring Longi’s delegates that the state would pull out all the stops to ensure approval for the project would be fast-tracked.

"For the first time, very good investment is coming from China," Naidu said. "Solar power is the best solution for sustainable economic growth."