Seraphim has announced plans for a 500 MW solar cell factory to be located in the Coega Industrial Development Zone near Port Elizabeth in South Africa. This follows the successful launch of a 300 MW module facility in the Eastern Cape region earlier this year, which is also set for expansion.
Like the module factory, which came online in August, both the expansion and the new cell fab will be developed in partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa. Seraphim also notes that the 200 MW module expansion will be for half-cut cell technology – adding to the factory’s capabilities, which a Seraphim representative previously told pv magazine include glass-glass and bifacial, as well as standard framed modules.
“We have continuously received purchase orders for modules from our 300 MW factory in South Africa since it reached full production in September; building our own cell plant in South Africa is the ideal way to support our customer base by optimizing our production and reducing lead times,” said Polaris Li, President of Seraphim. “We are glad to cooperate again with IDC, a professional and reliable local partner. This new factory will strengthen mutual interests and optimize prosperity for our stakeholders.”
Both are set to begin commercial operation in the third quarter of 2019. Seraphim states that the new production lines are critical to its plans for building global capacity, and to mitigate the uncertain landscape of tariffs on exports from China, where the largest portion of its 4 GW production capacity is based.
Bringing the first 300 MW online in August, the company stated that it had plans to expand module production at the site to 1.5 GW over the next three years, and at the time said that it would add 300 MW of cell capacity – which it now appears to have exceeded with the plans for a factory in Port Elizabeth.
Without revealing details, Seraphim also hinted at further plans for South African manufacturing capacity. “We are very excited about the opportunities that this new cell factory opens up for our operations in South Africa,” said David Nunez Blundell, co-founder of Seraphim Southern Africa. “This plant will be the first of its kind in Africa, and shall be a stepping stone towards the consolidation of a strong vertically-integrated operation that will see additional investments materializing in the near future.”