Part one of this three-part series looks at the factors making the province a key manufacturing center.
A favorable geographic setting, fortified by a strong transportation infrastructure, upholds Zhejiang province’s position as a principal source of solar panels in China. The local industry accounts for approximately 60 percent of the country’s output.
The area’s network of roads, bridges and railways provides companies convenient access to raw material, component and service providers. Solar cells, and the aluminum and steel for module frames are just some of the production inputs widely available locally.
Domestic and overseas markets are also within easy reach. Clients in China include suppliers of lighting fixtures and other solar power applications in Zhejiang and nearby areas. Abroad, the US and Europe are currently the primary destinations, but suppliers are expanding their presence in the Middle East and Africa.
One of the key facilities in the province is the Hangzhou Bay Bridge, which links Ningbo in the south to Jiaxing in the north. This S-shaped transoceanic bridge shortens the ground distance between Ningbo and Shanghai by about 120 kilometers, enabling the efficient delivery of goods to and from major trading hubs in China.
The Port of Ningbo is another important transit point, hosting major shipping lines that travel to more than 500 international piers. Meanwhile, civil airports in Hangzhou, Ningbo, Wenzhou, Zhoushan, Yiwu, Taizhou and Quzhou connect the province to over 150 destinations within China and abroad.
Support from the government is also fundamental in the growth of the solar panels industry in Zhejiang. Local authorities sponsor several annual trade shows, with booths offered at discounted rates to start-up companies. In addition, advertising subsidies are allocated for large, export-oriented enterprises to help them expand presence in target markets.
The Zhejiang Solar Energy Industry Association was established in 2008 to help draft industry standards, enable information bridges between providers and customers, promote local brands and hold relevant training. The organization is based in Hangzhou.
Zhejiang’s solar panel industry comprises approximately 300 suppliers, most of which offer crystalline silicon types for household and commercial applications. Makers congregate in the cities of Ningbo, Taizhou, Shaoxing and Yongkang.
Privately owned operations with annual capacity not exceeding 1MW constitute the majority of the sector. These usually source the PV cells from nearby suppliers and conduct only assembly in-house. At such factories, a number of processes are done manually.
Larger makers include joint ventures, publicly listed companies and foreign-invested enterprises. Several are vertically integrated, housing facilities for the production of ingots, wafers, cells and modules.
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Note: This article "Zhejiang major solar panel production hub" was originally
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