Economy

Turkey to start local solar cell production on June 15

Turkey's first solar cell integrated factory set to produce components for 1 GW solar plant in its first three years

Ebru Sengul Cevrioglu and Firdevs Yuksel   | 13.03.2020
Turkey to start local solar cell production on June 15

ISTANBUL 

Turkey's first integrated solar ingot-wafer-module-cell production factory in Ankara will begin its operations on June 15, according to the head of Kalyon Solar Energy Technologies Production Co. on Friday.

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency during the Solar Istanbul - Solar Energy, Storage, E-Mobility and Digitalization Exhibition & Conference, Ahmet Taskin said the facility will produce components for Turkey's biggest solar power plant, which will be established as part of the first solar Renewable Energy Resource Zone (YEKA) tender with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts.

Kalyon Holding, together with a South Korean Hanwha Q-Cells consortium, won the tender for Turkey's biggest solar power plant project - the Karapinar Renewable Energy Resources Zone Project in March 2017 at a cost of $0.0699 per kilowatt-hour. However, Hanwha will not continue with this project and China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) have stepped in to construct the facility and to provide additional two years of technical assistance after the turnkey contract expires.

Under the tender rules, solar components are to be produced locally, and the tender also stipulates that local engineers should constitute 80% of the project’s workforce.

The construction of the module cell factory to produce four units - ingot, wafer, module and cell, was inaugurated at a groundbreaking ceremony in the capital Ankara in December 2017 and construction currently is ongoing.

"As of June 15, all four units will be operational. Right now, some of the machines have come, some are on the way and some are about to be finished. By June 15, all installations will be completed and first production will begin," Taskin declared.

These components produced at the facility will be used for Karapinar YEKA in the first three years of operations, after which the Turkish company might explore supplies to other local projects and international markets, according to Taskin.

He was optimistic that more YEKA projects would be made available in the future albeit on a smaller scale than their winning tender. Furthermore, he expects an expansion of solar projects into foreign markets, including North Africa and the Middle East.

"There, economies are mostly based on oil, but they know that these sources will come to an end one day. They are announcing big solar energy investments so markets there will be lively soon. Therefore, we plan that some of our markets will also be there," he explained.

"The Energy and Natural Resources Ministry has made some preparations for [new YEKA projects]. This is a factor that we think will expand the solar energy sector even more in Turkey," he explained.

On Oct. 7, 2019, Energy Minister Fatih Donmez announced plans to hold YEKA tenders for solar energy in a new form, known as "mini YEKA", which are due to be held in the first half of 2020.

Panel factory to produce monocrystalline solar panels

Of the two types of technology most widely utilized in solar panels worldwide, Kalyon's panel facility will produce the higher efficient monocrystalline solar panels rather than polycrystalline solar cells.

He explained that although polycrystalline technology is cheaper, its efficiency is low, and therefore, monocrystalline solar panels are currently the most widely used worldwide and are even expected to become more widespread in the future.

Citing CETC as one of the biggest companies in China, which is known for building China's first satellite, airborne radar and guided missiles, and for developing and manufacturing electronics, Taskin said Kalyon made the right choice to work with such a reputable company.

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