One of the largest Chinese module manufacturers, JA Solar Holdings Co Ltd., has announced that it has launched a new 400 MW solar cell production facility at Panang, Malaysia.

JA Solar invested approximately MYR300 million (US$70 million) in the facility located in the Penang Bayan Lepas Industrial Park. The facility is expected to generate about 700 job opportunities for local people, and would be able to accommodate further expansion in production capacity as and when required to meet the growing overseas demand.

This facility will be the first production unit of JA Solar outside China. Setting up the facility outside the home country would have a dual advantage as it would not attract US anti-dumping duties on solar panels and would also help the company to expand its footprint in the other emerging solar markets.

The new 400 MW facility will be producing high efficiency multi-crystalline solar cells which will account for 10% of the company’s overall production. The production at the facility is expected to start within 2 weeks, with first batch of cells ready for shipment to overseas market before the end of this year. 

The company has already secured all necessary business, manufacturing and environmental licenses and approvals from the local authorities in Malaysia.

Most of the large Chinese solar manufacturers have already started building production facilities in neighboring Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore to continue to supply to attractive solar markets like EU and US despite the threat of widening anti-dumping investigations in the near future.

In May, leading Chinese solar company Trina Solar had announced that it is building a 700MW cell and 500MW module production facility in Thailand. Another renowned Chinese manufacturer, JinkoSolar, is also setting up a 950MW cell and module manufacturing facility in Malaysia which is expected to be commissioned this year. 

According to a recent report from a private firm, more than one-tenth of all production capacity of China’s leading solar firms will be located overseas by 2016, reaching more than 5.3 GW of solar cell capacity by the end of this year.