Turkey's local Zorlu Energy Group is poised to establish partnership with U.S.-based solar panel company First Solar as it aims to expand renewable investments in Turkey.
Zorlu Energy Group President Sinan Ak said First Solar is aware of the potential in Turkey and the region, saying, "Seeing the great potential in Turkey and the region, they proposed to hand over the distribution of solar panels in 26 countries to us. And if we can reach a capacity of more than 1,000 megawatts, First Solar pledges to jointly establish a factory in Turkey."
The two companies will negotiate on the panel factory to be established in Turkey during a meeting in the U.S. this week.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA) on the Zorlu Energy Group's future investments and overseas abroad, Ak stated that they did not join the Renewable Energy Resource Areas solar energy tender in March because of a technical reason that stemmed from the agreement they made with their American partner.
He recalled that they signed a contract to distribute First Solar's panels worldwide, saying this has been the first time First Solar authorized another company to distribute its panels.
According to Ak, First Solar decided last November to remove the Series-4 product and switch to Series-6. They are thin film panes like TV panels. With this decision, they are enlarging 0.72-square meter panels to 2.2 square meters, which has made the prices cheaper.
Stressing that developments in the world of television have reflected on the thin film technology, enabling First Solar to have the possibility of enlarging the panel, he said that the company is now investing in their own facilities.According to Ak, First Solar told Zorlu Energy, "We have limited human resource at the moment and we have to use it in the first place to change and renew our facilities for at least two years. First Solar aims to first its annual production capacity to 6,000 megawatts from 3,000 megawatts, and to 10,000 megawatts with such expansions."
He explained that the company will have actualized its dream of producing 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy for $1.78, adding that First Solar did not give up its plans of establishing factories and solar power plants in Turkey after the Renewable Energy Resource Areas solar energy tender.
"We just postponed it for a technical change stemming from our agreement with First Solar," he said, stressing that a factory must absolutely be established in Turkey taking into consideration the potential of the panel market in solar energy.
"There are no panels in the market at the moment and First Solar has sold all its panels for 2018 and 2019 and is receiving orders for 2020. As a result of the demand increase in the U.S., the incoming anti-dumping laws to Chinese products, the incredible potential in China and the advent of India, these capacities have begun to fail," he added.
Ak further said that they have obtained a five-year distributorship right under the contract with First Solar.
"We sold 300-megawatt panels in the first year and aim to sell 400 megawatts next year. We have carried out the first foreign sales to Ukraine. We are discussing a 50-megawatt panel in Kazakhstan," he said. Zorlu Energy is also eyeing opportunities in Romania and Albania, as First Solar has left this initiative to the company. Ak noted that their targets of domestic energy investments have not changed and they are progressing toward 5 percent in market share.