ReneSola cuts downstream footprint

ReneSola has announced plans to sell three utility-scale PV projects in western China, signaling a renewed focus on manufacturing at a time when many of its rivals are pushing harder into development and EPC work.

ReneSola has signed a memorandum of intent to sell three grid-connected projects totaling 60MW to Jiangsu Akcome Solar Science & Technology. No timescale or financial details for the deal were disclosed.

The sale will help cut ReneSola’s debt – totaling $831.2m at the end of the last quarter – and boost cash flow, says chief executive Xianshou Li.

“We will have greater flexibility to further expand our business in new and existing markets,” says Li.

The projects-sale announcement comes several weeks after ReneSola revealed plans to close an uncompetitive polysilicon plant in Sichuan province.

Although likely beneficial in the long run, the closure of the polysilicon plant represents a significant near-term setback for the Zheijiang-based company, which posted a net loss of more than $200m in the most recent quarter, at a time when some Chinese PV manufacturers have already returned to profitability.

ReneSola completed its first utility-scale plant in western China in late 2011, but after building several others in Qinghai and Xinjiang provinces its downstream ambitions appeared to dry up.

This week rival Chinese module maker Trina Solar announced plans to develop up to 1GW of PV capacity in western China.

Historically a wafer specialist, ReneSola has successfully expanded into module production in recent years, and its brand has gained significant traction in markets like the US.

ReneSola expects to ship around 3GW of PV kit in 2013, more than half of it modules.