Yingli in 233MW Algeria bonanza

Sonelgaz, the state-owned Algerian energy company, has tapped Yingli to supply 233MW of modules during 2014, in the largest-ever order of its kind on the African continent.

The announcement comes less than a week after the State Grid Corporation of China – the world’s largest power utility – joined the Desertec Industrial Initiative, which is targeting mega-solar developments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

The deal represents a major win for Yingli – and China’s PV industry more broadly – as it looks to make inroads into solar-rich emerging markets across the MENA region.

In October Yingli joined Sinohydro, the state-owned hydropower and construction giant, and Hydrochina, a provider of technical services, in a consortium to bid in a 318MW tender round orchestrated by Sonelgaz subsidiary SKTM.

Yingli, China’s largest PV-module maker, was recently informed that the consortium has won the rights to design and build 233MW of the capacity put to tender.

Construction will begin next month in Algeria and be wrapped up by third-quarter 2014.

Yingli chief executive Liansheng Miao says the co-operation with Sinohydro and Hydrochina marks “a new approach to PV project development” among Chinese companies.

Algeria is not considered one of the MENA markets with the most near-term potential solar demand, due largely to its immense fossil-fuel resources.

Yet Algeria has acknowledged the wastefulness of burning fossil fuels for domestic electricity over the long run, and – mirroring similar moves in countries like Saudi Arabia – has issued a fuzzy plan to add several gigawatts of solar capacity over the next decade.

Several years ago German PV toolmaker Centrotherm won an order to kit out a module factory in Algeria, although the company has since entered insolvency proceedings and the fate of that factory is unclear.

Suggesting that Algeria may be happy to import a significant amount of the solar kit it intends to install in the coming years, Chahar Boulakhras, chairman of SKTM, says: “We are looking forward to further strengthening the co-operation with Yingli in the future.”

In May Yingli chalked up one of the largest PV orders ever on the African continent, winning a 96MW order for the SolarReserve-developed, Iberdrola-built Jasper project in South Africa.

Yingli has also carved out a significant market share in the tiny but fast-growing Jordanian PV market.