Chinese solar manufacturer Longi yesterday insisted patent infringement accusations made by Korean rival Hanwha Q Cells – and associated lawsuits – would not affect its normal operations and today it announced a major production capacity expansion in its homeland.
In a press release to announce operations at the new fab in the city of Chuzhou, Longi revealed the first panel had been produced at the site in January and the 2.5 GW capacity first phase of the 5 GW facility is now up and running.
Commissioning of the second phase of the Anhui project is taking place and the gigafactory “will start full production soon”, according to Longi.
The Chinese manufacturer, whose entire production capacity is geared to passivated emitter rear contact (PERC) cell technology, stated it will press ahead with huge expansion plans to next year reach 45 GW of monocrystalline silicon ingot and wafer capacity.
Heralding the operation of the $328 million Anhui fab, which broke ground in May and was constructed and commissioned by the end of the year, Longi president Li Wenxue said: “In 2019, our company identified a gap between fast-growing global orders and our high-efficiency cell and module capacities. [The] Longi Chuzhou factory will greatly narrow this gap. Besides manufacturing, the factory will also facilitate the transformation of technological and technical achievements to the mass production of new products.”
The news was announced on a big day for manufacturing in China with the revelation electric carmaker Tesla has brought operations at the Shanghai ‘Gigafactory 3’ it is constructing a step nearer by signing credit lines with four Chinese lenders.
Longi, along with fellow manufacturers REC and Jinko Solar, was this week accused of patent infringement by Hanwha, which claimed its rivals were using its patented passivation technology in their products. Longi, which is facing lawsuits in the U.S. District Court of Delaware and the International Trade Commission as a result of the complaint, denies the accusation, as do REC and Jinko.
In a statement yesterday, Longi said “there is considerable uncertainty with regards to the validity of the patent rights” and claimed it uses plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition technology on its passivated cells. Hanwha’s complaint, Longi said, instead relates to atomic layer deposition.