US solar equipment supplier set to bank on Longi ambition

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American solar equipment maker Linton Crystal Technologies appears well positioned to benefit from the big expansion plans announced by Chinese PV giant Longi Solar yesterday.

With the world’s biggest monocrystalline solar module maker announcing plans to add some 8 GW of silicon ingot and wafer manufacturing capacity this year, ingot furnace supplier Linton Crystal revealed it intends to consolidate its Chinese operations under one roof by the end of the year.

The New York State-based equipment supplier yesterday outlined plans for its manufacturing, R&D and administration functions in the city of Dalian, in northeastern China, to be brought together in a new base in the city.

Linton Crystal, which is based in Rochester, estimates staff at its Dalian Linton NC Machine Co Ltd Chinese unit will be relocated some time in the fourth quarter.

Big plans

The company supplies ingot manufacturing equipment to Longi, which yesterday launched its annual results for 2018 by declaring an intent to reach an annual ingot and wafer manufacturing capacity of 36 GW this year, 50 GW next year and 65 GW by the end of 2021.

“We constantly strive to produce the latest innovations in Czochralski (CZ) process crystal growers and silicon ingot growing processes,” said Todd Barnum, chief operating officer for Linton Crystal Technologies, in a press release announcing the new base. “When completed, the new complex will enable us to work more seamlessly and productively with our partner in China, improve manufacturing, and provide better experiences for our customers with an even greater ability to demonstrate our growers’ capabilities.”

One China-based consultancy today revised down its estimates for the amount of new PV capacity it expects to be added in the world’s biggest solar marketplace this year, following confirmation of how subsidies will be paid in 2019. However, the big players in Chinese solar are going all out to expand production capacities at present, in the expectation solar is on the verge of a global renaissance as prices reach grid parity in key markets.