Turkey's Suoz Energy Group will move its recently acquired solar panel facility from Greece to Turkey to begin production of solar cells in six months, the company CEO told the media early this week.
Suoz Energy Group signed an acquisition agreement for Piritium and Silcio factories, built with German technology and located in Patras - a coastal town in Greece. Suoz will move the cell factory to Turkey's Dilovasi region to start domestic production.
Berk Ucuran Ciller, CEO of the company, said the factory, constructed eight years ago, had not been online for the last four years.
The factory was constructed with a €45 million investment eight years ago.
He cited the growth of panel production in China and its spread to the world that challenged competitiveness, especially in Europe, as the reason for the company's halt in production four years ago.
The cell-producing factory that will be moved to Turkey was acquired at "a very good price", he said.
"So we will start producing cells for the panels in Turkey and lead the way for 'Turkish-made' solar panels in the country. We will complete the move in six months and will be ready for production," he added.
He noted that the capacity of the cell factory is 80 megawatts but said the company is in negotiations with a Taiwanese company to become a shareholder in the factory to double capacity.
Ciller said the company already has a 300-megawatt panel production factory in Dilovasi using Chinese technology.
"Our investment in panel production and solar plants will continue. We also will increase the current capacity of the panel production factory to 500 megawatts by the end of this year. Thanks to all these operations, we foresee $100 million in turnover by the end of 2018 and $150 million in 2019," Ciller said.
He further said the company's investment in various sections of solar energy would reach $400 million in 10 years and thus its financial turnover could increase to $1 billion.
Ciller said overall employment in the factories would rise from the current 270 to around 500. "One megawatt is equal to one employee in solar energy," he declared.
He acclaimed Turkey as a country in which solar energy would have a bright future given its geographical location.
"This is one of our [company's] motivations while making investments and we attach great importance to exports. Turkey's geographical location allows us the opportunity to export panels to many different areas," Ciller said.
A number of Turkish companies currently import cells and produce panels in Turkey. However, the country aims to enable technology transfer to decrease dependence on imports.
Turkey's biggest solar power plant project, the Karapinar Renewable Energy Resources Zone (YEKA) contract specified that investors have local panel production. In March 2017, the winning consortium, Hanwha Q-Cells and Kalyon Holding, won the tender and held a groundbreaking ceremony for an integrated ingot-wafer-cell factory in Ankara.
The factory plans to have a capacity of 1,000 megawatts with the first panels expected by the end of this year.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya in Athens