Under-pressure Yingli Solar plans module factory in Thailand

Struggling Chinese PV group Yingli Solar plans to open a module factory in Thailand under a joint venture with local developer Demeter Corporation.

Yingli said one of its holding subsidiaries will take a 40% stake in a JV that will set up a plant in the Pruckdang district of Rayong with an annual production capacity of 300MW.

Demeter – a Thai renewable energy developer and operator – will hold the remaining 60% of the JV, which will spend about $19m to build the factory. It is due to be operating by the end of the year.

The plant will produce panels to be sold by Yingli under its own brand name, and will be its first outside China. The Chinese group said it hopes to “expand the new factory's production capacity across the PV value chain in the future”.

Yingli – which has spent the last six months trying to regain financial stability in the face of large debts and ferocious competition – sees the Thailand factory as a chance to get back on the commercial front foot.

Yingli’s parlous finances have seen it suspend downstream project development and idle some production lines in China in the face of the need to preserve capital.

A Thai plant will give Yingli a base unhampered by the fair-trade measures in place against China-produced modules in various parts of the world, and in the form of Demeter a partner in a growing Southeast Asian market.

Yingli CEO Liansheng Miao said: "Manufacturing PV panels in Thailand will enable the company to operate more competitively in overseas markets as well as in the emerging markets of Southeast Asia."

The move reflects a wider trend among China’s PV majors to expand their production capacity outside their home country.

Trina Solar – which toppled Yingli as the world’s largest module supplier two years ago and has gone from strength to strength ever since – is itself building a 500MW-module, 700MW-cell factory in Thailand.