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Solar Interest in TT


TWO of the world’s leading solar panel manufacturers, based in China, are “keenly interested” in investing in a solar technology park in Trinidad, says InvesTT President, Racquel Moses.


“We had one-one-one meetings with two of the top companies during our visit to China in late February. They were keenly interested in the investment because it would mean reduced shipping costs to customers in South America, and access to the CARICOM market where energy costs are high.” 


During a recent interview with Business Day, Moses said global players would also find Trinidad an attractive option for expansion because of the relatively cheap cost of energy, since “the manufacturing process is energy-intensive while shipping is very expensive.” 


Currently InvesTT is providing the un-named Chinese companies with information and sending them a lot of results from its year-long feasibility study. There has also been a mutual “answering of questions back and forth,” Moses revealed. 


What’s next? More face-to-face meetings in China, sometime between now and June, followed by a site-visit to Trinidad. 


“We’re securing the estimated 250 hectares needed, we’ve started the application for a certificate of environmental clearance (CEC) and so on, so that by the time the investor is ready to say ‘yes’ and sign on the dotted line, we would have all of our ‘ducks in a row’,” Moses stated. 


The solar technology park, expected to attract up to US $1.8 million in investments, would see the construction of four factories – a polysilicon plant, a metallurgical silicon plant, a float glass plant and a photovoltaic plant, “so that the production of one feeds into the production of the other.” 


While the meetings in China yielded the expected results — keen interest in setting up shop locally, InvesTT also intends to make a sales pitch to other leading solar panel manufacturers. “Four of the targeted companies are in Asia, one is in South America and another in North America. We believe this would absolutely make sense for them, based on their profit and loss structure. So we’re taking it on the road, looking for four different investors.” Moses said it is possible that one Chinese ‘mega’ investor would choose to invest in all four plants “as a way to diversify their production but we are looking for four investors, the best in each type of manufacturing.” 


She told Business Day that a typical investment takes about two years; “that’s a global standard in terms of closing an investment from an investment promotion agency,” but believes that the feasability study and other necessary ground work already completed by InvesTT would cut that time line in half. 


“We did a year-long feasability study that has provided the level of detail for an investor, that we would have completed a lot of the ground work they would themselves want to do. So I am hopeful that we can close this early to mid 2015,” Moses stated.



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