BYD opens Brazil solar energy factory

Chinese technology group BYD has opened a solar panel factory in Brazil, the second to start in the South American country in less than a year. The new factory, located in the southeastern city of Campinas, has a production capacity of 200 MW per year.

The 150 million reais (US$47 million) factory, produces solar panels with the company’s so-called Double Glass technology, the firm added. The technology increases energy production by 7% compared to previous modules and extends durability to 50 years, according to BYD.

It also offers a lower product degeneration rate of 0.3%, compared with the 0.7% rate of typical panels that use ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), it added.

“BYD is a global high tech company. As such, our goal is to bring the world’s best technology to Brazil, creating new jobs and generating innovation in the country,” said BYD Energy do Brasil president Tyler Li.
“With local production we will help consolidate the distribution and generation markets,” he added.

The firm did not specify what the market would be for its panels, and was not available for comment when asked by NewsBase Intelligence (NBI) whether it was intending to sell them outside Brazil.

Shenzhen-headquartered BYD, which was created in 1995 and started by producing rechargeable batteries, now has renewable energy operations in more than 50 countries.

BYD is not the only firm lining up to get a share of Brazil’s solar manufacturing market. Canadian Solar opened a solar panel plant in Sorocaba in the state of Sao Paolo last September, with a production capacity of between 350 MW and 400 MW.

It gives the integrated manufacturer and developer an edge on its competition, as the factory will initially deliver panels for power plants being developed by Canadian Solar in Brazil. In the longer term it is expected to be able to supply around 100 MW of solar panels to other developers and the company also reportedly has plans to double production from the factory further down the line.

However, it was reported in January that the company was already struggling with high taxes and production costs, a common side-effect of Brazil’s local content rules. Reuters reported that Canadian Solar’s Brazilian panels were 40% more expensive than Chinese imports.

Along with Brazil’s fragile economy, the shortage and expense of panels have caused concern over the viability of a number of projects and have hobbled the once-promising Brazilian solar market. Meanwhile, other proposed panel factories – including those planned by SunEdison and WED – have been shelved in recent months.