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A shorter Supply Chain

How can you find the best and cheapest solar modules in a growing industry which already has more than 250 manufacturers? How do you purchase larger quantities of modules directly from a Chinese manufacturer? The independent global marketplace SolarPlaza.com launched a new personal matchmaking service for solar businesses. This service helps business customers to find the most competitive solar module offers and assists them in ordering directly from the manufacturer.

By Edwin Koot, SolarPlaza

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Print June 6, 2007, 17:17 (CEST)
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A shorter Supply Chain

A shorter Supply Chain

Rotterdam, 20 March 2007

Purchase modules directly from manufacturers
SolarPlaza offers a personal service, shortcutting the solar energy supply chain.

How can you find the best and cheapest solar modules in a growing industry which already has more than 250 manufacturers? How do you purchase larger quantities of modules directly from a Chinese manufacturer?
The independent global marketplace SolarPlaza.com launched a new personal matchmaking service for solar businesses. This service helps business customers to find the most competitive solar module offers and assists them in ordering directly from the manufacturer. This short cut in the supply chain avoids unnecessary cost. To bridge the gap in language and culture, the company has experienced representatives in China and Spain. The local people and Western management based in China have an extensive network of personnel in contact with all the major module manufacturers. They know the culture, speak the Chinese language and have the contacts to arrange the best deals. The Chinese solar industry is growing rapidly and already has some of the world’s major PV manufacturers. As in other business sectors, it is likely to play a dominant role in the future production and global sales of solar modules. The new service will be specifically of interest to larger end-users such as PV project developers, installers and system integrators in the world’s promising markets such as Spain, Italy, the USA and Greece. The local Spanish representative of SolarPlaza will make it convenient for Spanish companies to arrange attractive direct deals with Chinese manufacturers.

 

What makes the service even more attractive is that it is both a personal and a no-risk solution. Only in the event that an interesting offer can be presented and a deal can be closed will a small fee be charged. “In this way we will do all the upfront work, such as market research, arranging the contacts and offers” says Edwin Koot, director of SolarPlaza. “With our global marketplace and network of more than 16,000 contacts in the solar industry, we will know where to get the most competitive business deals”.


Fourteen years of experience in the solar energy market and a strong personal network will help as well. “The good thing is we help both sides of the market. This service will also help module manufacturers to sell their products on the international market through a lead-generating global sales platform” says Koot. “The manufacturers will get in touch with interesting business customers in new, emerging PV markets without the need to set up a costly distribution network.” As a real internet entrepreneur, he sees only advantages: “Our marketplace, trading platform and match-making service combines the global approach of the internet, leading to a better overview and market transparency. It helps the industry and the customers.” In order to make the service competitive and attractive for all stakeholders, minimum order quantities will be 1 container or some 100 kWp in size.

Take for example Spain, where more and more companies are developing larger Huertas Solares projects. Most of these developers have no long history in the solar energy market. The service will make it possible to find and purchase large amounts of modules directly from the reliable manufacturers. This is not only attractive with respect to liability aspects, but will save you lots of money. “Nowadays we are able to arrange module offers by reputable Chinese manufacturers for less then € 2.69/Wp. Compare this to market prices of € 3.15/Wp and you can calculate that you can keep 460,000 euro in your pocket with a 1 Megawatt solar park project”. Koot believes that solar modules are becoming a commodity product. “The added value will be more in the type and quality of the cells used.

There is really no argument against buying solar modules from China. The products are certified and the quality is good. We have visited the factories several times and we have people who have worked in China for more than 10 years and who visit all the major manufacturers on a regular basis. What most people do not know is that a major proportion of all modules comes from China already anyway. Either under their own brand, or with the label of the Western manufacturer”.
 


How else would (new) PV project developers find their way in the jungle of the world’s 250 module manufacturers, producing more than 1000 different modules? China alone is home to some 50 different manufacturers, all with dazzling ambitions. It is not hard to imagine that one can only keep an overview with experienced people that have a local and global network within this industry. “The advantage of the internet is that all this knowledge and information can easily be made available to a global audience, making the market more transparent. The famous New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman has already pointed out in his book ‘The World is Flat’ that in future only language will form a barrier to global business. “That is why we have people working with us who speak Chinese and Spanish”.

More information about the personal matchmaking service: www.solarplaza.com or contact e.koot@solarplaza.com .

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