South Africa-made ReneSola coming

ReneSola has signed a toll-manufacturing agreement with Solairedirect in South Africa, underscoring the success of Chinese suppliers in one of the world’s fastest growing solar markets – and the growing effectiveness of South Africa’s emphasis on local content.

The deal will see French PV group Solairedirect make 120MW of ReneSola-branded modules at its Cape Town factory over the next three years.

Solairedirect has committed to using 20MW of the ReneSola modules at its own South African projects, more than covering the duo of second-round PV arrays totaling 18GW for which it was named preferred bidder last year.

In addition, Solairedirect, a significant developer in India and other emerging markets, will buy 34MW of the ReneSola modules for use globally. The two companies may expand their tolling agreement in the future.

Although largely unaccustomed to manufacturing outside China, Chinese module suppliers have won the preponderance of orders in the booming South African market, often through direct and indirect promises of future investments in the country’s nascent renewables supply chain.

Yesterday ReneSola rival JinkoSolar unveiled a deal to ship 115MW modules to South Africa. Other Chinese PV suppliers to announce significant orders in the country include Trina, Hanwha SolarOne, GCL and Suntech – in addition to the wind-turbine manufacturer Sinovel.

Earlier this week South Africa’s Standard Bank signed a 20bn rand ($2.2bn) agreement with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to jointly fund renewables projects in the country.

“We are confident in Solairedirect’s production capabilities and believe our solar modules … will be of value to projects in the region,” says ReneSola chief executive Xianshou Li.

“We look forward to developing a long-term relationship with Solairedirect and will continue to seek opportunities to grow our business in the exciting South Africa market.”