Cape Town – Western Cape Premier Helen Zille says the opening of a solar panel manufacturing plant in Cape Town is good for job creation and has the potential to create secondary industries.

The premier said this when Jinko Solar, a New York Stock Exchange-listed Chinese company, officially opened a solar PV module production facility in Epping on Tuesday afternoon.

The premier said the company’s decision to open its first factory outside of China in the Western Cape was good news for job creation.

“The reason I am excited is this plant will create 250 direct jobs. Other indirect jobs will be created, as we are not expecting jobs to be created within the plant only, but there will be more work created post production through installations,” she said.

Premier Zille also said while the opening of the plant was good news as far as investment in the country was concerned, scarce skills were still a challenge, as South Africa did not have a history as far as the manufacturing of solar panels is concerned.

She said the Western Cape provincial government had forged a partnership with a local technology tertiary institution to send local students to China in a bid to upskill them.

Morgan Peng, the MD of Jinko Solar, said they expect to produce 1 300 solar panels per day at the plant, and added that they expected a R600-million turnover per year.

He also said that the solar panels, which are mounted onto the roof of a house or property, are expected to help in taking the load off Eskom’s power grid.

Peng also said the plant is expected to produce 120 Megawatts by the end of the year.