Canadian Solar opens Ontario factory

Canadian Solar has formally opened its second factory in Ontario, this one as part of its broader agreement with Samsung in the Canadian province.

The plant, which produces medium-voltage power stations in addition to modules, began operation last November.

Canadian Solar, whose global headquarters in Guelph, Ontario, already maintains a 330MW module factory in the province, although the vast majority of its manufacturing takes place in China, the birthplace of chief executive Shawn Qu.

The size of the latest factory was not revealed, although it is said to employ 200 workers.

The factory was first announced last summer, and comes as part of Canadian Solar's broader arrangement with Samsung within the Korean conglomerate's Green Energy Investment Agreement (GEIA) with the province.

Under the original terms of the GEIA, struck in 2010, Samsung was to build 2.5GW of wind and solar capacity in Ontario – and ensure that at least four manufacturing facilities came with it – in exchange for generous subsidies.

However, the terms of the deal have since been altered twice – and most significantly in 2013 – with Samsung now on the hook to build just 1.37GW of renewables in Ontario.

It is understood that the government in Ontario was keen to shrink the scope of the deal to reduce its financial exposure, using slippages in Samsung’s build-out as an excuse to renegotiate the terms.

Samsung has nevertheless followed through on its commitment to see four new renewables-focused manufacturing bases established in Ontario – partnering with Siemens (wind-turbine blades), CS Wind (towers), SMA Solar (PV inverters) and Canadian Solar.

In exchange for opening the factory, Canadian Solar has won significant module-supply and EPC deals from Samsung.

Samsung is on track to deliver about 1.1GW of wind and solar capacity in Ontario by the end of this year, with the remainder to come by 2016.

Among other problems facing its renewables programme, Ontario was stung by the World Trade Organization’s determination that the domestic-content rules embedded in its feed-in tariff were in violation of international law.

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