Interview: Huawei ramps up its LatAm presence

pv magazine: How does Huawei currently supply the Latin American markets? Do you have plans to expand manufacturing facilities in the region?
Leslie Tan:
Huawei started to develop the Latin American market at the end of 2015. So far in the region we have mainly focused on Chile, where we have constructed around 1 GW over the past few years. In the other countries Huawei is now preparing to begin developing capacity. In terms of local manufacturing plans, we will make a decision based upon how the Latin American market progresses in the future.
Can you describe the benefits of Huawei’s string inverters for large-scale solar plants in climates found in Chile (hot and dusty) and Brazil (humid)?
There are some solar plants that have been deployed in the north of Chile with the more traditional central inverter that have encountered problems. Because of the failures of the fan inside a typical central inverter, the solar modules often to have be rebooted when the temperature is high, leading to the high power losses. When these situations happen, the plant operator has to open the door of the inverter to dispatch the heat. This can then lead to additional problems of dust, and the failure rate increasing year by year. This is a negative cycle that is costly and time-consuming to repair.
But the Huawei string inverter is designed with a natural cooling system, and is sealed with IP65 standard, which makes it fully water and dust proof, and thus ensures easier operation and maintenance. It is also important to understand that the failure rate of the product is extremely low because of the long experience Huawei has accrued in the telecommunications industry.
In more humid regions such as Brazil, the Huawei solution supports anti potential induced degradation (PID), which again ensures swifter and safer operation for plant owners.

Does Huawei have any plans to enter the small but growing commercial and residential markets in leading Latin American countries?
Yes, we are looking at this market in Latin America, but to really expand into these sectors it will require the support of local partners to ensure that we can offer strong coverage across the different countries of LatAm.
The recently signed MoU between Huawei and Steelcons is a notable first step into the Brazilian market. Could you describe how the partnership came about?
Steelcons is a company that has a long term strategy in the Brazilian solar industry. In order to continue their growth strategy, at the beginning of the year they began to examine all of the different technologies and suppliers serving the Brazilian market. After visiting the Huawei R&D facilities, as well as a large utility scale solar plant with the Huawei Smart PV Solution installed, they understood that for this kind of 25-year investment they would require a long term partner with a strong bankable background, and the technology required to enable them to be more competitive in the market.

Do you expect any changes in the local content requirements of the Brazilian market?
The situation is that today pretty much all investments into the Brazilian solar market are coming from abroad. So while in the longer term Brazil will want to change that, there is no pressing necessity at the moment to have local content, because even the big players that are selling in Brazil do not have any established manufacturing in the country. This will take some time to develop and establish.