US$50m “shot in the arm” for Chinese solar firm

Chint Solar raised US$50m in difficult market conditions

Chint Solar raised US$50m in difficult market conditions

Chinese solar firm Chint Solar has raised US$50 million (RMB342 million) to expand production capacity of its low-cost thin film solar modules.

The funding was led by Chinese internet billionaire Min Zhu’s Cybernaut Growth Fund and government supported private equity firm Shanghai Alliance Investment. According to Chint Solar, this private placement provides a “shot in the arm” for the entire Chinese photovoltaic industry at a time when overseas markets have shrunk significantly.

The firm, based in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, will use the 100% of the funds towards developing mass production of amorphous/microcrystalline silicon tandem thin film PV modules – its goal is to reach at least 240MW annual production capacity by 2010.

With the development of its low-cost line of modules, Chint Solar hopes to become one of the first PV manufacturers in the world to reach “grid parity” (where the cost of solar is equivalent to the cost of traditionally generated electricity).

“Presently, the cost of electricity generated through photovoltaic sources is US$2/W,” says the company. “With Chint Solar’s next-generation thin film technology breakthroughs, within two to four years, the cost of [solar] power generation is expected to drop to US$1/W, with grid parity reached shortly thereafter,” says the company.

In 2008, thin-film technology comprised around 10% of the installed base of PV power stations. But according to Chint, the cost advantages of the technology will cause a growth spurt with the firm estimating a 60% compound annual growth rate for installation of thin film modules.

Chint Solar’s chief executive officer Dr Liyou Yang says a recovery in global capital markets is underway and his firm may seek a public listing after 2009.

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