CSUN opens PV cell factory in Korea

While many Chinese PV makers have sought to move production overseas after the latest round of U.S. duties on PV cells and modules, China Sunergy (CSUN) is somewhat unique in that it had invested heavily in offshore production as early as 2012.

The company began making cells and modules under the sub-brand SolaireViet in Vietnam in 2012. CSUN then opened a factory in Turkey in May 2013, which put it in a position to be able to offer duty-free modules in close proximity to Europe while avoiding the Minimum Price Agreement.

Today CSUN took another step towards geographical diversification, by formally opening a PV cell factory in South Korea with an annual production capacity of 200 MW. The 5000 square meter factory in Incheon began trial production in May, and in a brief press statement the company says that it “turned into formal operation recently.”

CSUN also says that once capacity utilization reaches 80% it will consider expanding the factory’s production capacity to 500 MW by adding cell lines. The company has entered into agreements with local module makers to produce CSUN-branded modules, and plans to use the plant’s output to serve Eastern Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.

“The move helps to enhance our global supply chain, gain access to local customers and minimize potential negative impacts from anti-dumping cases in the US, EU, or elsewhere,” notes CSUN Chairman and CEO Tingxiu Lu.

“Looking ahead, we will continue to improve our cost competitiveness and strengthen our global footprint by the combination of moving our existing facilities in mainland China and building new facilities in the countries which have cost and geographic advantages.”

CSUN will need all the advantages it can get. Despite being named a tier 1 PV module supplier by Bloomberg New Energy Finance in March of last year, the company continues to show signs of financial duress.

CSUN has not yet released Q2 results, but its Q1 results show ongoing struggles with profitability. The company’s stock price has remained low for years, and in September CSUN reported that it had failed to meet the NASDAQ market’s minimum share value of $15 million. The company has six months to bring this value up or face de-listing.