Published on April 3rd, 2018 | by Joshua S Hill
April 3rd, 2018 by Joshua S Hill
US-based NextEra Energy has signed one of the largest solar panel supply deals in history with China-based JinkoSolar for 2,750 megawatts (MW) alongside a separate move in which JinkoSolar will open its first US manufacturing facility in Jacksonville, Florida.
In moves which will encourage both the global solar supply market and the North American solar industry in particular, JinkoSolar Holding announced on Friday that it has signed one of the largest solar panel supply deals in history with NextEra Energy that was first raised back in January. At the time, JinkoSolar announced that it had signed a solar supply agreement with an unnamed US counterparty for around 1.75 gigawatts (GW), and was advancing plans for the construction of a US-based manufacturing facility.
“This deal will further solidify our leadership in the US market,” said Nigel Cockroft, General Manager of Jinko US at the time. “An agreement of this magnitude exemplifies JinkoSolar’s commitment to provide our clients with the most reliable products and dependable, regional customer service.”
Fast forward two months and JinkoSolar confirmed that NextEra Energy was not only the previously-unnamed “US counterparty” but that the supply agreement would be increased from 1.75 GW to 2.75 GW. Similarly, the previously “advancing plans” were confirmed in the form of a US solar manufacturing facility in Jacksonville, Florida, which is expected to create more than 200 direct jobs and support hundreds of additional local jobs in shipping and other related industries.
“As NextEra Energy continues to invest heavily in new solar projects across the country, we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to buy cost-effective, reliable solar panels made here in America,” said Jim Robo, NextEra Energy’s chairman and CEO. “JinkoSolar shares our commitment to delivering affordable clean energy solutions, and we are pleased to welcome them to our home state of Florida.”
The new Jacksonville “state-of-the-art” manufacturing facility will have the capacity to build 400 MW of solar modules annually — or around 1 million solar panels each year. Production is expected to start later this year, and JinkoSolar is currently anticipating to rely on the Port of Jacksonville for a large volume of its necessary important and exporting.
The move was heralded by Florida Governor Rick Scott, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, and Eric Silagy, president and CEO of Florida Power & Light Company, which currently operates more than 930 megawatts of solar capacity in Florida, including 14 solar power plants, who said that “It’s exciting to know that solar panels built in Florida will be helping power FPL customers in the not-too-distant future.”
The JinkoSolar manufacturing move is unsurprising given the recent decision by US President Donald Trump to impose a 30% tariff on all solar module and cell imports. While overall the tariff will have a negative impact on the American solar industry — reducing US solar installations by 11% over the next five years, or a reduction of around 7.6 GW — it will force big-name solar manufacturing companies like JinkoSolar to re-evaluate whether or not to invest in US-based manufacturing facilities.
“Investing in this solar panel manufacturing facility makes clear our commitment to Florida and the growing US market,” said Kangping Chen, CEO of JinkoSolar. “This will be one of the world’s most advanced solar panel manufacturing facilities, which will provide us with the flexibility and manufacturing capacity to support our local partners and growing U.S. customer base.”