Another 5 GW of module capacity for the Longi juggernaut

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Chinese PV manufacturer Longi Solar has signed an agreement with the city government of Jiaxing to build a 5 GW solar module production line for its high-efficiency products.

The Xi’an-based manufacturer will invest RMB2.2 billion ($312 million) in the facility and expects to break ground soon, with the fab set to be up and running next year. With the Zhejiang province production line planned only 100km from Shanghai, Longi appears intent on producing modules for export.

After single-handedly ensuring the dominance of mono products in the solar market – with the volume of monocrystalline modules shipped surpassing multi last year – Longi is emulating its peers among the big beasts of solar manufacturing by pulling out the stops to expand its annual production capacity at a terrific rate. The company has announced at least a dozen investment plans this year and wants 27 GW of annual ingot production capacity, 25 GW of solar wafer production, 10.25 GW of cell capacity and 20 GW of modules rolling out of its factory doors.

Footing the bill

That all adds up to an estimated production expansion bill of around RMB23.4 billion for plans announced this year.

The inevitable burden on the balance sheet was already being balanced by record sales figures in the last quarter, with RMB22.6 billion in the last three-month period – a year-on-year increase of 54.68%. With net cashflow up 278%, net profits more than doubled to RMB3.48 billion in the July-to-September window.

That did not prevent the board needing to issue RMB5 billion of convertible bonds on the Shanghai Stock Exchange last week for its three big production capacity expansion projects.

The stated target for solar wafer production is indicative of the approach being taken by the cash-hungry manufacturer. Two years ago, Longi announced an intent to be able to churn out 45 GW of wafers before 2021. That ambition has now been raised to 65 GW within 14 months and by the end of next year, the mono giant also plans to have more than 30 GW of annual module production capacity and 20 GW of cell output.

This article was amended on 01/11/19 to reflect Longi has never manufactured multicrystalline solar modules.