Jinko ups solar footprint in Chile

Updated: 2014-05-12 05:31

By CHRIS DAVIS in New York (China Daily Latin America)

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Jinko ups solar footprint in Chile

Workers with JinkoSolar assemble solar panels for clients in Jiangxi province, China. Zhuo Zhongwei / For China Daily

JinkoSolar, the current cost-leader in the Chinese solar-panel industry, has agreed to provide 100 megawatts (MV) worth of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules for two projects in northern Chile. Together, the two projects are expected to generate approximately 132 million kWh of electricity annually.

The news came just before shares of JinkoSolar (NYSE:JKS) climbed 5.6 percent as the company announced that unlike its two major Chinese competitors - Trina Solar and Yingli Green - it had reaffirmed its first-quarter and full-year guidance.

While the terms of the new Chile deals were not disclosed, the two plants - one with a 60MW capacity, one with 40MW - will be located in Chile's Atacama Desert region, considered one of the driest places on Earth with one of the highest irradiation levels.

Alberto Cuter, JinkoSolar sales director of emerging markets, said the company was enthused about solidifying its position as one of the largest PV module providers in Chile.

"The increase in demand for renewable energy has turned Chile into one of the principal solar markets, and by signing the contracts, the company is continuing its strategy to diversify into emerging markets," Cuter said.

"We now have the largest market share in Chile, marking a new milestone for JinkoSolar. Our expanding presence in Chile's renewable energy market demonstrates our commitment to the development of clean energy in Latin American," he said.

According to global brand director Dany Qian, Jinko solar opened a Chilean legal entity in Santiago de Chile in January 2014 and the office will serve as headquarters for Latin America JinkoSolar operations.

"JinkoSolar has one of the biggest market shares at more than 30 percent of total shipments in Chile," Qian said. "The modules of Jinko have been used for residential, commercial roof top application, as well as large scale utility power plant." 

Qian added that JinkoSolar's presence in Latin America included an office in San Paolo, Brazil, and a warehouse in Guadalajara, Mexico, and the entire Jinko team in Latin America consisted of more than 10 people - in sales, marketing, technical support and HR.

Last October, JinkoSolar announced that it had supplied 1.2 MW solar PV modules to SolaireDirect Chile, an independent power producer in the country. That project, located in the high mountainous deserts of Chile's Fourth Region - Coquimbo, provides electrical power to both mining companies and the Chilean spot energy market.

According to a company press release, the solar modules, which went online in June, now generate enough energy to meet the requirements of between 1,200 and 1,800 households. The plant is also somewhat automated, as it is supervised and operated remotely, with regularly scheduled maintenance and inspection.

Xiande Li, chairman of JinkSolar, said the project "demonstrates to our customers in the region that our high-efficiency modules are suited for desert conditions in geographically diverse regions such as Chile".

"We are very pleased to have the opportunity to cooperate with SolaireDirect on this project," Li said.

Royal Smith, operations director of SolaireDirect in Chile, said the project supports the government's push to bring clean power to the country and attain energy security.

"We chose JinkoSolar due to their technological leadership in the global solar PV industry and long-term commitment to sustainable development," Smith said. "This project reiterates our action plan of providing utility scale solar solutions."

Of the two new Atacama Desert projects just announced, the 60MW Lalackama PV plant, which will feature 197,000 JinkoSolar PV solar modules, is expected to generate about 132 million kWh of electricity per year.

The second, so-far unnamed 40MW facility, which will be constructed in the municipality of Diego De Almagro, is estimated to generate around 88 million kWh of electric power a year.

Analysts on the investor advisory website seekingalpha.com called JinkoSolar, which went public in New York in 2010, "the premier solar company from China", citing 2013 revenue growth of almost 50 percent, adding that "the rapid growth is expected to continue in 2014 and possibly 2015".

The report also said that JinkoSolar modules' cost - at $0.48 per watt - "is likely the lowest in the industry".

Chinese solar companies have been struggling with shrinking overseas market demand, excessive supply and trade barriers, China Daily reported last month. And most companies were looking in two directions: either to stretch to a downstream EPC and energy solution segment, which stresses vertical integration and generates higher added value, or to explore the domestic market, which has huge potential and the added catalyst of the government's determination to develop a green economy.