China's Tongwei Group Plans World's Biggest Solar-Cell Plant

Tongwei Group Co. is planning to build the world’s biggest plant to make solar cells in China’s southwestern province of Sichuan at a possible cost of about $1 billion.

The facility is expected to have capacity of 5 gigawatts of high-efficiency solar cells annually, according to an e-mailed statement. The company held a ceremony on Wednesday to mark the beginning of construction.

The plant in Shuangliu county will triple Tongwei’s total solar-cell capacity, which is estimated to reach 2.4 gigawatts by the end of this year. The plan underscores Chengdu-based Tongwei’s efforts to expand capacity after agreeing to buy a 10 percent stake in Taiwanese solar-cell producer Gintech Energy Corp. in July.

The factory, which could cost about 20 cents a watt, could be part of a medium-term plan, said Wang Xiaoting, a Hong Kong-based analyst from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. 

“The supply glut still exists, so expansion will prompt the smallest companies to quit,” she said.

JA Solar Holdings Co. is expected to have 4 gigawatts of capacity by the end of this year, making it the world’s biggest solar-cell maker, according to BNEF data.

Tongwei said it also plans to build 10 gigawatts of photovoltaic power projects in the next three years to five years.

— With assistance by Feifei Shen

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