Thu, Jan 25, 2018 - Page 12 News List

Neo Solar mulls US plant to cope with new levy

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Solar cell maker Neo Solar Power Energy Corp (新日光能源) yesterday said it is considering building a new solar module plant in the US to cope with new US tariffs on solar cells and modules.

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday approved recommendations from the US International Trade Commission to impose safeguard tariffs of up to 30 percent on solar cells and modules, and up to 50 percent for washers, citing the damage such imports could cause US manufacturers.

“We did think about building our solar module capacity, including constructing a new factory in the US, which is part of our restructuring efforts following a three-way merger,” Neo Solar chairman Sam Hong (洪傳獻) told a media briefing. “We are now seriously evaluating this option.”

“But the investment will be relatively small, at between NT$300 million and NT$500 million [US$10.2 million and US$17.1 million], with most of our new investments remaining in Taiwan,” Hong said.

The company is evaluating plans to build a new US solar module plant with an annual capacity of between 500 megawatts (MW) and 1 gigawatt, he added.

The new import tariffs will not have any significant impact on Neo Solar as less than 10 percent of its solar cell and module shipments are exported to the US, Hong said.

Neo Solar is to merge with local peers Gintech Energy Corp (昱晶能源) and Solartech Energy Corp (昇陽光電) to create a new entity, named United Renewable Energy Co (UREC, 聯合再生). The three-way merger is to be completed in the third quarter.

Gintech has a plant in Thailand that has an annual capacity of 750MW for solar cells, with about 15 to 20 percent of that capacity shipped to the US.

Solartech runs a plant in Malaysia that has an annual capacity of 200MW, with about half of that output shipped to Canada and the US.

The two companies said they are gradually reducing their exports to the US to minimize potential risks.

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