Yingli Shelves North America Plant… for Now

The falling Euro hurts Yingli Green Energy Americas

Yingli Green Energy Americas, Inc. has shelved plans to open a new North American manufacturing facility in either Austin or Phoenix, citing global financial turmoil that is hurting solar panel pricing.

Yingli’s U.S. Managing director Robert Petrina tells the Austin American-Statesman that the project is merely on hold and, “the U.S. is a big part of our plans.” However, the company is seeing its main advantage over Western solar PV firms – its low production costs – evaporate as the Euro and solar panel prices fall.

Petrina said that the instability in the solar market has made the company hesitant to commit to a large project right now.

He said the company is looking for the pricing levels to stabilize before making its final decision to locate its plant in either Phoenix or Austin.

Until yesterday’s announcement, parent company Yingli Green Energy looked ready to conquer the globe.

Company executives purchased a costly, but bold, 2010 World Cup sponsorship in February and watched as officials in Phoenix and Austin wooed the company with incentives to locate its new plant in their respective cities

Yingli announced some solid operational results yesterday, with record gross margins of 33.3 percent, but recorded a $24.7 million foreign exchange loss.

The foreign exchange problem points to a more general concern with Chinese green energy companies – they compete on price not on technology so they’re especially sensitive to currency shifts.

Barclays Capital Clean Technology Analyst Vishal Shah said today that Yingli was operationally strong but lowered his estimates to account for exchange loss and a weaker Euro.

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