Request you to kindly drop in all your mails/queries to support@infraline.com or call us at
+91-120-6799125 (D); +91-120-6799100 (B)

Mr. Zhiguo Zhu, Senior Vice President and President, Trina Solar Limited

12 Mar 2015

‘Discarding anti-dumping duty proposal is a game-changer for solar industry’

Mr. Zhiguo Zhu, Senior Vice President and President - Module Business Unit of Chinese solar power company Trina Solar Limited speaks to InfralinePlus about the company’s plans for India. Excerpts.

What is your present scale of operations globally? What kinds of technological innovations have been introduced or planned by the company to expand its product portfolio as per the requirements of the world solar market? What are your key achievements during 2014?

We currently sell our PV modules primarily to power plant developers and operators, distributors, wholesalers and PV system integrators. We focus on different types of clients depending largely upon the demand in specific markets. We work with solar power plant developers and operators, who tend to be large volume purchasers, by supplying PV modules for downstream projects. Our customers are mostly located in Europe, the United States and China. Solar manufacturers like us have capitalized on government and regulatory policies for the promotion of solar power in many jurisdictions. In order to continue growing our sales and to reduce our exposure to any particular market segment, we intend to broaden our geographic presence and customer base. While Germany continues to be our largest market, we have significantly expanded our sales of PV modules to solar power markets in Europe, North America and Asia, including the United States, China and Italy. As of December 31, 2012, the United States, China, Italy and European countries other than Germany, Italy and Spain accounted for 25.5 per cent, 13.0 per cent, 6.1 per cent and 7.5 per cent of our net sales, showing that we have been increasing our market presence in European countries other than Germany and building our brand as one of the top global solar brands.

We value research and innovation to commercialize high efficiency modules, and bring additional value to our customers. We maintain a number of development programs and activities aimed at improving our technology and processes in order to enhance performance and reduce the cost of our solar modules. With six R&D departments, Trina is equipped with full capability to cover a wide range of research topics in the photovoltaic area, from the silicon material to the product manufacturing, as well as the testing for quality. We have a state key laboratory of PV science and technology, which aims to advance the PV sector by improving energy conversion efficiency, as well as increasing PV module durability and ease of installation, in order to deliver the highest quality of products with competitive price.

Trina Solar is committed to profoundly changing India and even the world’s energy landscape by continuing to steer the advancement of effective solar technology and top-quality products. Trina recently set several new records in module power output and solar cell efficiencies. Our researchers from the State Key Laboratory have demonstrated a high-efficiency mono crystalline Honey Module with 60 cells (156mm x 156mm), which set a new world record for peak power output of 335.2 W. Our mono crystalline silicon Honey Plus, p-type (156mm x156mm) PERC record-setting cell reached an efficiency of 21.4 per cent. To our knowledge, this is the highest efficiency ever demonstrated to date for a large-area PERC solar cell fabricated using a low-cost industrial PERC process. In addition, our multi-crystalline silicon cell (156mm x 156mm), also fabricated with an industrial PERC process, reached another world record in efficiency of 20.76 per cent. These efficiency numbers have been independently measured by Fraunhofer ISE CalLab in Freiburg, Germany and set two new world records, which were previously held by the Institute for Solar Energy Research Hamelin and Q-cell, respectively.

We believe our investment in leading technology, product innovation and product quality, together with our focus on ensuring safe for workers, communities and the environment, are recognized in the market and will continue to best position the company to increase sales and profit going forward.

How significant is the Indian market in Trina Solar’s global operations? What are your key offerings in the Indian market?

Solar energy has long been considered a viable option for ending energy poverty in India due to its location near the equator and tremendous solar energy potential. India receives nearly 3,000 hours of sunshine every year, which is equivalent to 5,000 trillion kwh of energy. Although there is huge potential to convert it to electrical energy, the nation is facing a widening gap between energy supply and demand. Thus, there is a growing concern to address the disparity, making it important to tap solar potential to meet energy needs.

The trend shows that the Indian government has recently taken big steps to combat climate change and develop clean energy. The new government has delivered on its promise to enhance the solar power capacity addition targets under the ambitious National Solar Mission announcing revised guidelines for capacity allocation. Moreover, Narendra Modi-led government’s first budget has given high priority to renewable energy sector with an allocation of Rs. 1,000 crore for development of ultra large solar power plants and solar parks.

The government’s move of discarding the anti-dumping duty proposal is a game-changer for the solar industry. This is a very prudent move as it has balanced the concerns of producers and manufacturers by removing these duties on solar imports from nations like the US and China. We believe, for such initiatives to succeed, it is crucial for both the local communities and industry players to work synergistically.

Even though we have full confidence in the India growth story, under the new regime, we are expecting faster approvals. We want the government to make the processes simpler and easier. We are looking for special incentives such as land and infrastructure to foreign companies to facilitate investments. India also needs a simplified taxation structure for creation of a better business environment.

India is very price sensitive market because of the prevailing solar policies. In that way, for this market our standard 60 cell honey series modules and 72 cell Utility grade modules are most suitable.

We are also receiving some encouragement from the market for innovative products like Trinasmart, Trinamount, and Duo-max (dual glass) module. These modules are usually more suitable for installation environment which is kind of defective. Take Duo-Max module for an example. Duo-max comprises two layers of 2.5mm thin heat-strengthened glass, and it is a highly reliable and durable PV product that is able to maintain high standards of performance in harsh environments such as desert, tropical and mountain areas. The Duo-Max products offer high levels of resistance to degradation caused by thermal cycling, moisture ingress, mechanical loading, micro-cracking, PID, module warping, UV aging, as well as corrosion from ammonia, acid, alkali, salt mist, and sand abrasion.

If there is a policy only for rooftop systems and if the foreign suppliers are considered under that policy, we may see a good shift and balance between the standard modules and innovative modules demand in this market.

What is your present scale of operations in India? What projects are you currently working for and what is the current status?

In India, where it has been operating for three years, Trina Solar has a market share of over 10 per cent of the total 2700 mw solar polar capacity in the country; it has supplied solar power to projects with 280mw capacity. We did a lot of projects in India and have excellent public reputation. For example, Neemuch 151 mw (DC) solar project, which is India’s first mega solar project, first brought hundreds of thousands of the country’s rural inhabitants into the light. The company also intends to set up a manufacturing facility in India over the next few years

Where does the company stand vis-a-vis its peers globally as well as in India? What are the company’s short and long term targets and strategies to expand its presence in the solar market?

According to a release by IHS Technology, as the third quarter 2014 earning season draws to a close for leading solar PV companies, with re-stated full year forecasts made for the final time, the group has released its global top 10 module rankings based on full year shipment estimates. Trina Solar is forecast to be the largest module supplier in 2014 in terms of global shipments. In 2013, we adopted a number of development programs and activities aimed at improving our technology and processes in order to enhance performance and reduce the cost of our solar modules.

Our cost of goods sold is affected by our ability to control raw material costs, achieve economies of scale in our operations, ramp up our production capacity as planned, and efficiently manage our supply chain. This includes successful execution of our vertical integration strategy and judicious use of toll manufacturers or third-party wafer suppliers to fill potential shortfalls in production capabilities. Moreover, by maintaining good relationships with mid-term and long-term raw material suppliers, we are able to provide high performance products and benefit our customers as well.

What is the company’s manufacturing capacity in India? Do you plan to expand it further? What would be the investment requirement for the same?

We are planning to set up a facility over the next few years in India to “make in India, supply in India and even export from India” responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to global manufacturers. Trina Solar officials participated in the World Economic Forum that was held in Delhi in November to actively look for a joint venture partner and study the Indian market. From next year the company would start expanding outside China.

We want 20-30 per cent of our production to take place outside of China. India is one of the places we are exploring to do this. The company endeavours to double its revenue share from India. The new government scaled up its initial solar generation target of 20 gw by 2022 to 100 gw, prompting global players to raise their bets on the Indian solar market.

Considering, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has identified 12 locations for setting up the proposed 25 solar parks, we see great potential in these states to set up projects over thousands megawatt. The government aims to construct ‘Ultra Mega Solar Power’ projects or high capacity plants in these radiation-rich states.

Gujarat has been a leader in solar power generation and contributes 2/3rd of the 900 mw of photovoltaic in the country. The State has commissioned Asia’s biggest solar park at Charanka village. Thus, there’s no doubt that this state would continue to attract the attention of the solar industry players.

How does the DCR requirement of JNNSM affecting the demand for foreign players like Trina Solar? What are your strategies to deal with this?

Optimistically, we believe the general policies will be positive to the solar industry, as well as to global manufactures and partners. With the higher energy demands and the urgency of protecting the environment, the local governments’ behavior with market nature will be weakened. In August, 2014, the Indian government has decided not to impose anti-dumping duty on solar cells imported from nations like the US and China. The government seems to have taken a decision that would support the continuing trend of affordable solar power.

What potential opportunities do you foresee for Trina Solar in India especially after the announcement of very ambitious capacity addition target by the central government?

India’s government is energetically promoting the usage of renewable energy by providing numerous fiscal and financial incentives, such as capital and interest subsidies, and concessional excise and customs duties, to encourage Indian and foreign investors to invest in renewable energy enterprises.

We believe, for such initiatives to succeed, it is crucial for both the local communities and industry players to work synergistically.