Tongwei to invest $1.8bn to build two 10 GW solar cell factories in China

Tongwei, a Chinese conglomerate with 5.4 GW of solar cell capacity under its belt, has announced this week bold plans to expand its production capacity to 30 GW over the next few years, starting with the creation of two 10 GW solar cell fabs located in Hefei in China’s east, and Chengdu in the country’s southwest.

According to a statement published by Tongwei on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, the total level of investment will be 12 billion yuan, which equates to $1.8 billion. Tongwei currently owns 5 GW of solar cell production capacity in Chengdu, having expanded into the solar industry in 2013 following its purchase of LDK Solar.

The company has large volumes of polysilicon output and has been a Chinese leader in the agricultural feed sector for two decades. Tongwei’s ambitions and scale, therefore, have always been on the larger side, and by targeting 30 GW of cell capacity would make the firm by far the largest solar manufacturer in the world. JA Solar is currently the largest solar cell manufacturer globally with capacity for more than 6.5 GW of cells annually.

Currently, Tongwei’s 5.4 GW cell capacity places it fourth globally in manufacturing terms, and the company has 4.3 GW of capacity currently under construction. According to a company spokesperson, operation of these two new 10 GW fabs will begin within three years’ time “based on market demand”.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) Hong Kong-based analyst Jiang Yali said that such rapid scaling of capacity in China could challenge the market in 2018, although “whether Tongwei will carry out its plan in the short term is unknown,” Yali added.

Tongwei will construct state-of-the-art automated facilities capable of producing high-efficiency mono-cSi solar cells, the company confirmed.

In the summer, Tongwei signed a development agreement with Germany metallization paste specialists Heraeus to develop new generations of cell technology, including black silicon and PERC.