Europe will remain China Sunergy’s single largest market for its PV modules this year, despite a selective exodus from EU countries by a number of other China-based module manufacturers before the completion of an investigation into anti-dumping by the EU Commission.

Central to CSUN’s commitment to Europe is its joint venture solar cell and module assembly facility in Turkey. Management noted in a call to discuss fourth quarter 2012 financial results that it expected to ship between 550MW and 600MW of modules in 2013, 60% within Europe.

Management said that the facility in Turkey acted as a buffer against anti-dumping rulings imposed on Chinese-made solar cells in the US last year, as well as the possibility of penalties imposed within the EU, due to be announced in early June 2013. Notably, the facility could be a buffer against penalties imposed anywhere else in the world in the future.

The company reiterated that its first 120MW module assembly line started production in January 2013 with its first solar cell line (100MW) expected to come on stream in May 2013. CSUN would become the first Chinese producer to have established both solar cell and module assembly lines within Europe.

CSUN also plans to expand module production further in Turkey. Management said that another 180MW module production line would be established at the facility in July, bringing module nameplate capacity close to 400MW and becoming of the largest producers in Europe.

Most notably, CSUN will use the European facility as a springboard to support its downstream PV project business in both Turkey and other European countries. The shortfall in solar cell production in Turkey, compared to its module capacity would be handled by importing solar cells from Taiwan, according to management as they meet any possible anti-dumping regulations.

Overall production costs were believed to be slightly higher than the equivalent costs in China, though full cost accounting was not expected until the facility was fully ramped. 

Financial guidance

CSUN guided total shipments for the first quarter of 2013 to be in the range of 100MW to 110MW. Gross margin for the first quarter of 2013 is expected to remain at a similar level to that in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The company noted that approximately 20% of full-year shipments would come from its PV projects business.