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Solar giant sets new direction for profits

By Lyu Chang (China Daily)

Updated: 2016-03-14 08:05:09


JA Solar Holdings, one of the world's largest producers of solar energy products, is seeking to expand in emerging markets touched by China's Belt and Road Initiative.

The move comes in the face of a competitive price war in the solar industry and declining profits in the United States and Europe brought by heavy import taxes as high as 165 percent.

China's Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which aim to improve cooperation with countries in Asia, Europe and Africa, "provide huge opportunities for us," said Jin Baofang, president of JA Solar, on the sidelines of the ongoing two sessions in Beijing. "Installed solar capacity has suffered a decline in some traditional markets, such as the US."

Jin, who also serves as an NPC deputy, said the company plans to install solar panels in all cities and towns along the Belt and Road routes.

As anti-dumping import duties have savaged the bottom lines of Chinese solar panel makers over the last couple of years, many makers, including JA Solar, are turning to neighboring countries in Southeast Asia to build production bases as a springboard to spread business across the region.

The company, based in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, built its first overseas manufacturing plant in Penang, Malaysia.

A key factor that has pushed Chinese solar companies to invest in Malaysia is that solar panels made there do not invite heavy duties in the US and Europe, as those made in China do.

Located in Penang Bayan Lepas Industrial Park, the first production line has an annual capacity of 400 megawatts, creating more than 700 jobs for local people.

JA Solar has now begun construction on the second phase of the factory.

Jin said Penang's strategic location in Southeast Asia, its accessibility to airports and seaports and the availability of reliable infrastructure support the additional manufacturing capacity.

The company also plans to focus on markets in India, West Asia and Southeast Asia, Jin said.

Last year, it shipped 100-MW solar modules to Pakistan's first solar power station to feed growing electricity demand.

The station was connected to the grid when President Xi paid a state visit to Pakistan in April.

The Nasdaq-listed company said its solar cells and modules are sold in more than 80 countries.