Trina Solar plans third factory in Vietnam to boost U.S. exports


27th September 2023 – (Hanoi) Chinese solar panel manufacturer Trina Solar is reportedly preparing to construct its third factory in Vietnam, according to sources familiar with the matter. The move comes as the company aims to increase exports to the United States following the imposition of punitive duties on its products made in Thailand. Trina Solar, one of the world’s largest solar panel makers in terms of sales, intends to invest $400 million in the new facility, which will cover an area of 25 hectares of industrial land. Production is expected to commence in 2025, as confirmed by insiders with direct knowledge of the plan.

While one source disclosed the $400 million investment figure, another individual involved in discussions with the company revealed that Trina had indicated a potential investment of $600 million in Vietnam. The sources, who wished to remain anonymous as the project details are confidential, further noted that Trina Solar did not respond to requests for comment.

Trina’s decision to invest in Vietnam follows an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce, which concluded last month that Trina, along with four other Chinese solar firms, had utilised their facilities in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries to evade punitive tariffs on Chinese-made panels. These tariffs, which are set to take effect in the middle of next year, currently only impact Trina’s operations in Thailand. However, the practice of Chinese companies establishing facilities in Southeast Asia for export to the US remains under close scrutiny due to concerns about unfair state subsidies.

According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, the leading solar panel-producing countries in the region account for approximately 80% of U.S. panel supplies, with Vietnam contributing around one-third of all US imports of solar panels in the first quarter of this year.

Trina is already a major player in the Vietnamese solar panel market, and its planned investment highlights the growing interest of Chinese businesses in establishing factories in the country to navigate the increasing geopolitical and trade tensions between China and the U.S.

China has emerged as the second-largest foreign investor in Vietnam this year, pouring in $2.7 billion between January and mid-August. This figure is more than five times the value of investments made by US companies during the same period, according to data from the Vietnamese government.

Trina currently operates two plants in Vietnam, one of which began producing silicon wafers last month with an expected annual output of 6.5 gigawatts (GW). The other plant focuses on manufacturing solar cells and panels.

The specific product to be manufactured at the new factory has not been officially confirmed. However, sources suggest that it may produce either solar cells or silicon wafers. Trina Solar is reportedly considering various industrial parks for the location of the new facility, with one source mentioning the involvement of a feng shui expert in the decision-making process. Additionally, the company is said to be taking into account Vietnam’s power supply issues as it evaluates expansion options, particularly in light of the impact of a heatwave in June on hydropower output, Vietnam’s second-largest source of electricity, which led to temporary production suspensions due to power cuts.