Solar factory to ‘shine’ with 200 jobs

Cindy Preller

A SOLAR factory that will provide more than 200 jobs is planned for Coega.

The solar module manufacturing facility will be located in the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) and construction is set to begin in the second quarter of this year.

One of the world’s largest producers of solar power products, JA Solar Holdings, is investing in the joint venture along with a South African solar farm construction company, Powerway PV SA.

The project will add to the huge drive by the government to generate energy from renewable energy sources with their Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.

The renewable energy company, DCD Wind Towers, is currently completing construction on a R300-million wind tower manufacturing facility in the Coega IDZ.

Coega Development Corporation (CDC) head of marketing and communications Ayanda Vilakazi said Powerway PV SA had already signed a lease agreement with the CDC.

“This is the second major Chinese investment and a significant achievement for Coega. Of course, this means jobs – about 200 in the operations phase – and a deepening of the manufacturing base, but it also has substantial implications for Coega’s credibility on the international market, and assists us in attracting more global investors.

“It will also contribute to an emerging renewable energy sector that addresses both generation and component manufacture in the province and South Africa,” Vilakazi said.

CDC business development manager Nkuli Mxenge-Mayende said opportunities were abundant in the solar manufacturing sector and the organisation was set on attracting investors in this industry to the IDZ.

“There are exciting developments as technology and production merge. There is no longer an exclusive focus on the [energy] generation side, but on manufacture for day- to-day applications.”

The new solar factory will service customers in South Africa and the broader southern African region with solar modules assembled from JA Solar’s high-efficiency cells.

Powerway SA managing director Charles Domingo said the company already had a long and fruitful relationship with JA Solar.

“We are seeing increasing demand for quality solar modules in the South African market and the central position of this facility means it is ideally located for exports from the Ngqura harbour and will serve project sites in the Northern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng and the greater southern African region.”

The plant is targeted to reach an initial capacity of 150MW per year, and could expand the production capacity of the facility to 600MW to meet a growth in regional demand.