Tue, Oct 08, 2019 - Page 12 News List

URE cuts capacity, turns to outsourcing to stay competitive

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter, in HSINCHU

Solar module maker United Renewable Energy Co (URE, 聯合再生) yesterday said it has reduced in-house solar module capacity by 80 percent and secured contracts for major solar farm construction projects, making progress toward turning around its operations.

URE, created through a three-way merger a year earlier, said it has been trying to pull itself out of the downward spiral in prices by scaling down in-house solar module production and outsourcing the bulk of its capacity.

The company has reduced installed capacity of solar modules from 5 gigawatts (GW) to 1GW over the past year, it said.

“The company is in the process of transformation,” URE chairman Sam Hong (洪傳獻) told a media briefing in Hsinchu. “Our aim is to reduce in-house solar module capacity to 1GW to 1.5GW, which would be sufficient to satisfy domestic demand and become a profitable business.”

URE is in talks with Chinese manufacturers to outsource solar module production, which would significantly reduce the risk of price volatility, he said.

“Price volatility is no longer a major concern for us. The lower solar prices go down, the better for us, as costs would fall as well,” Hong said.

As part of its turnaround efforts, URE aims to boost solar module sales to 2GW next year, up about 67 percent from this year’s 1.2GW.

It aims to swing back to profit in about three years after absorbing depreciation and amortization costs for its solar manufacturing equipment, Hong said.

Gross margin improved to 0.52 percent in the second quarter, from minus-11.19 percent in the same period last year, the company said.

Its solar farm construction business would be a second growth driver, URE chief executive Pan Wen-whe (潘文輝) said.

Last year, the company helped build solar farms at home and overseas, with 574 megawatts (MW) of solar panels connected to the power grid, Pan said.

URE helped build solar panels on factory rooftops at the Changhua Coastal Industrial Park (彰濱工業區) to generate 100MW of electricity a year, as well as on the rooftops of WalMart Inc’s 200 outlets in the US to generate 340MW of energy, Pan added.

The company plans to help build solar farms in Australia and Southeast Asia, with an installed capacity of 1.5GW, Pan said.

In Taiwan, URE targets rooftops, farms and fish farms to build solar panels, with an installed capacity of 1.3GW in the next one to two years, Pan said.

The company said it also hopes its new hydrogen-powered scooters would fuel growth. However, it would take some time to put the scooters on the roads, as the company is in talks with local governments to enact regulations for the new type of vehicle.

The project also requires new infrastructure, such as hydrogen fuel stations, it said.

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