JA Solar completes $70m Malaysian fab

Chinese vertically integrated solar company JA Solar has completed construction of its first manufacturing facility outside of China – a RM300 million ($70 million) facility in the city of Bayan Lepas, Malaysia.

Production at the plant will begin in a couple of weeks, with the first shipments to overseas markets expected before the end of the year, confirmed JA Solar’s Malaysia deputy general manager Ong Ken Yong.

The 400 MW factory will produce JA Solar’s high-efficiency multicrystalline silicon solar cells, and will account for around 10% of the company’s overall production. JA Solar’s shipments for Q3 2015 are forecast to be somewhere between 900 MW to 950 MW.

"One reason why we are in Malaysia is because it is part of our long-term strategy of moving some of our manufacturing sites to outside China. This is to reduce geograhical risk and adjust to politics and policies around the world," said JA Solar’s strategic planning and business developmet head, Dr Christoph Flink.

"[In] Asia, the first to lead our manufacturing site is Malaysia, but we have also signed a memorandum of understanding in India, which might be on a joint-venture basis," he added.

The facility will sustain employment for around 700 people, and JA Solar was keen to stress that the fab is also fully compliant with local regulations. “We have secured the necessary business, manufacturing and environmental licences and approvals from government authorities such as the Malaysian Investment Development Authority and the Department of Environment,” Ong added.

According to recent analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), more than one-tenth of all production capacity of China’s leading solar firms will be located overseas by 2016, reaching more than 5.3 GW of solar cell capacity in foreign lands by the end of the year.

In addition to JA Solar’s Malaysian venture, Trina Solar is building a production facility in Thailand and JinkoSolar is nearing the completion of a 950 MW cell and module fab in Malaysia. BNEF believes that more than 50% of future solar panel production from leading Chinese companies will be located in Southeast Asian nations due to attractive economics and logistics, and despite the threat of widened antidumping investigations spreading to many of these nations.

* This article was updated on October 22 to correct the erroneous investment figure ($70 million, not $47 million) and comments pertaining to the markets the new fab is intended to serve. The article headline was also changed to reflect this.