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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Nov. 29, 201805:20 AM EST

JinkoSolar launches pilot production at Jacksonville factory

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China-based company says it is on schedule to operate at full capacity early next year.

JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd. launched pilot production at its Westside solar-panel assembly plant as it prepares to reach full production and hire up to 200 employees.

Chief Financial Officer Haiyun Cao said Monday during the China-based company’s third-quarter conference call with market analysts the Jacksonville facility, its first in the U.S., was on schedule and the company has started pilot operations.

“And we expect to ramp up the factory to full capacity in early next year,” Cao said, according to a transcript of the call by the Seeking Alpha financial analysis firm.

JinkoSolar announced in March that when fully operational, it expected the Jacksonville factory will have the capacity to build 400 megawatts of solar modules annually, which would be more than 1 million solar panels a year. It said then that production was expected to begin later this year. 

“Jinko’s 2019 U.S. product growth is looking very healthy with big orders already secured,” said Gener Miao, vice president of global sales and marketing, during the call.

JinkoSolar and Juno Beach-based NextEra Energy Inc., the parent company of Florida Power & Light Co., announced in March that NextEra would buy about 7 million solar panels from JinkoSolar over four years.

JinkoSolar has eight production facilities worldwide.

JinkoSolar Business Development Director Jeff Juger confirmed Tuesday that pilot production has begun with a full ramp-up starting early next year. He did not provide the number of employees on staff. “Hiring is going well and in accordance with our production schedule,” he said by email.

The city’s economic development agreement states that JinkoSolar would create 100 jobs by year-end 2018.

JinkoSolar reported that revenue for the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30, rose 10.5 percent to $974.8 million from the second quarter and was up 4.3 percent from the third quarter of 2017.

The company said solar module shipments of 2,953 megawatts were up 5.7 percent from the second quarter and 24.4 percent in the third quarter last year.

On Dec. 13, JinkoSolar’s general manager for the United States and Canada, Nigel Cockcroft, is scheduled as the keynote speaker at the JAXUSA Partnership’s fourth-quarter meeting. The partnership is the economic development division of JAX Chamber.

JinkoSolar (U.S.) Industries, a subsidiary of JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd., is building-out the solar-panel plant in AllianceFlorida at Cecil Commerce Center. 

JinkoSolar agreed to open the $50 million plant with the support of city and state incentives. The jobs, which will pay an average annual wage of $45,562, must be created by the end of 2019.

The company will lease 285,652 square feet in the 407,435-square-foot building at 4660 POW-MIA Memorial Parkway.

City Council adopted a resolution in March to approve the incentives.  Financial support comprises city tax incentives of $3.4 million, consisting of a $3.2 million Recapture Enhanced Value grant to be paid over 10 years and a $200,000 Qualified Target Industry tax refund for JinkoSolar to be repaid over five years.

The state will pay the remaining $800,000 of the total $1 million QTI refund. 

JinkoSolar is the first Chinese company to set up a factory in the U.S. after President Donald Trump approved tariffs in January on imported solar panel technology.

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