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Yingli Green Energy: Affordable Green Energy for All

Increased environmental awareness combined with a motivation for cleaner energy generation has helped to promote the utilization of solar energy worldwide. Over the last 10 years, many solar companies have conquered the global marketplace. One of these is Yingli Green Energy, headquartered in Baoding, China. Since its foundation in 1998, Yingli has grown rapidly and is today among the top 5 of solar module manufacturers worldwide. The company’s customers and partners span the globe and include leading system integrators, distributors and utilities?many of whom deliver clean energy powered by the sun to local businesses and neighborhoods.

By Rebecca Jarschel

 

 

In stark contrast to its annual production capacity of only 6 MW back in July 2004, Yingli Green Energy currently maintains a balanced, vertically-integrated production capacity of over 1 GW per year. Two capacity expansion projects, 600 MW and 100 MW respectively, are underway at production facilities in China. These are expected to start production in mid-2011 and will increase the company’s total nameplate capacity to 1.7 GW by the end of the year. Yingli distributes its photovoltaic modules to a wide range of markets, including Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece, France, South Korea, China, and the United States. While the European market is key for Yingli, countries such as Brazil, the United States and China are becoming increasingly important. Yingli has particularly made considerable advances in its home country, where it was chosen to supply 70% of the modules for a 272 MW project. This project is part of the Golden Sun program which is supported by the Chinese Ministry of Finance.

 

Vertical Integration at Its Best

 

Yingli’s story is one of success; and the company sees its ability to combine cost leadership with premium product quality as a decisive factor. Its achievements have been made possible thanks to a vertically- integrated business model. The company covers the entire photovoltaic value chain, starting with the production of polysilicon in its in-house plant. Once the raw material is processed, Yingli manufactures all subsequent intermediate products. The fully automated production of ingots, wafers, solar cells and modules ensure the tight quality control of all materials, while providing significant cost advantages to its customers. Furthermore, the central production eliminates the environmental costs of transportation, breakage, and packaging. The great advantage of vertical integration is that the company is virtually independent of distributors and thus able to control all productions steps from A to Z.

Throughout the entire production chain, Yingli constantly works to optimize production processes and technologies, because technological innovation is essential to the company’s position as a global leader in solar energy. It is the vision of Liansheng Miao, founder and CEO of Yingli Green Energy, to make solar power a sustainable and cost-efficient source of energy for all. On that score, the company has made significant investment in research and development, focusing on crystalline silicon technology that can increase the efficiency of its solar cells. With regard to its PANDA cells, Yingli is cooperating with Amtech Systems, and the Netherlands-based Energy Research Center (ECN). The cells already have an average efficiency of 18.5% in commercial production lines and the company expects to hit the 20% mark in laboratories as early as in 2012. As a result of those technological advances, Yingli has been able to continuously lower the cost of solar power.

 

 

Top-Notch Workmanship

 

Despite the dramatic cost reductions, Yingli maintains its high standards of quality and services. The company employs rigorous quality assurance procedures at every step of the manufacturing process to identify and resolve quality issues. These include evaluating major raw material suppliers and inspecting all raw materials upon their arrival at the factory. Quality control procedures are also in place at all stages of the ingot, wafer, PV cell, and module production processes. If a problem is detected, a fault analysis is performed to determine the cause. In order to ensure the accuracy and effectiveness of all quality assurance procedures, ongoing training is provided for all employees. In order to further the company’s commitment to exceptional quality, Yingli and TUV Rheinland have established a strategic partnership. Yingli is currently one of the few manufacturers in the world to offer solar modules that are independently ‘Power Controlled’ by TUV Rheinland. Power Controlled modules offer clear benefits through the independent verification of their nameplate power, including an increased confidence in system performance and return on investment, the elimination of costly external verification processes of the nameplate power or flash test data and thus enhanced bankability of solar PV projects.

 

Responsible Governance

 

While the focus on quality, cost reduction, research and development remains strong, sustainability and commitment to social issues play a crucial role at the leading solar company. At Yingli, natural resources are handled with care. Among others, the recycling of materials during the manufacturing process plays a decisive role. To cite just one example, the fluid used in the ingot sawing process is immediately recycled. The company’s overall performance was ranked ‘excellent’ in the ‘Sustainability and Social Responsibility of the Photovoltaic (PV) Industry Report 2011’ conducted by a research team at Murphy & Spitz, an independent research firm. Yingli Green Energy showed not only strong results in the criteria researched, but also holds certifications in all relevant areas. Yingli Green Energy is the first Chinese company to have obtained the SA 8000 social accountability certification and to have comprehensive corporate sustainability initiatives in place.

But sustainability means much more than that; how end-of-life modules are processed is also an issue. Every module is designed to generate green electricity for a period of at least 25 years. A module’s life cycle, therefore, remains limited. By 2020, around two million solar modules, or 35,000 metric tons of them, will be disused ?and the numbers are increasing. To address this environmental challenge effectively, the solar industry is working together on solutions and strategies. Hence, in 2007, PV CYCLE was born. Yingli Green Energy strongly shares PV CYCLE’s vision and was even the first Chinese company to join the initiative.

 

Using Solar Power for Positive Social Change

 

In the United States, Yingli formed a philanthropic partnership with GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit solar installer providing renewable energy and energy efficiency services, equipment and training to communities in need. As the organization’s official solar module provider, Yingli Solar is working with GRID Alternatives to install 1 MW of solar energy systems for 400 low-income families across California in 2011. These solar projects will generate US$10 million worth of renewable energy while eliminating 40,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the projects will provide hands-on job training in solar PV installation to thousands of individuals looking to enter the solar workforce.

In conjunction with the company’s sponsorship activities, Yingli uses the power of football to instigate positive social change. As an official sponsor of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Yingli Solar supported FIFA’s ‘Football for Hope’ movement with solar solutions and expertise that brought smiles to the faces of children and young adults in need. The movement is led by FIFA and streetfootballworld, a social profit organization that links relevant actors in the field of development through football and their affiliates. A recent project witnessed the grand opening of the Mathare Football for Hope Centre where Yingli installed a solar-powered lighting system on the football pitch, allowing children and adolescents to make use of advanced renewable energy and play football in a safer, more comfortable environment?even after dark. Yingli is set to continue its partnership with the world football governing body for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and thus will continue to work with FIFA on realizing joint projects benefitting communities in need.

Yingli Green Energy is dedicated to a vision of a world powered by clean, renewable energy. In pursuing this vision, the company strives to create a healthy, safe and supportive working environment for all of its employees. As a leading renewable energy company, Yingli is not only responsible for its customers, but also for the communities, the environment, and the advancement of science and technology.

 

Rebecca Jarschel is responsible for marketing communications in Europe at Yingli Solar (www.yinglisolar.com). She has been working for the company since 2008. Jarschel has worked in the field of Public Relations in both China and Germany.

 

 

For more information, please send your e-mails to pved@infothe.com.

2011 www.interpv.net All rights reserved.

 
 

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