Australia-based Energy Puzzle Group on Friday committed an investment of US$ 190 million to establish a solar panel and solar cells plant in the Mirijjawela Export Processing Zone in Hambantota.
Spanning across eight-and-a-half acres, the plant is expected to be fully operational by 2015, reported development.lk. The majority of the energy produced will initially be for export. The main three export markets the company is targeting are India, Japan and the Gulf states.
According to Energy Puzzle Chairman Patrick Featherson, the initial production of 150 mega watts was likely to increase dramatically within the first few years. Once Phase One is up and operational, based on demand they would look at expanding not only in solar panels, but will also move into energy storage and other renewables, he added. “We hope the second phase will begin around mid 2016”, Featherson further stated.
The plant will originally employ 150 staff, of which there would be a balanced mix of Sri Lankan and Australian managers and workers. The company does not have other plants in close geographical proximity for manufacture. “This is our manufacturing hub for South Asia/South East Asia and the Asian region, extending towards the Gulf States”, Featherson said.
Commenting on choosing Mirijjawela Featherson said: “Sri Lanka, given the new port and the new development area in Hambantota, provides an excellent opportunity for us. It is a deep water port and there are no deep water ports in the southern part of India. We feel that both bringing materials into Sri Lanka and within the new free port area, we will be able to manufacture and export quite quickly at quite a low expense. The whole process of logistics has made it quite conducive”, the Energy Puzzle Chairman said
In a statement made to the media, BOI Chairman Dr. Lakshman Jayaweera said: “This investment in the manufacture of solar panels is further proof that the BOI’s policy of targeting specific Australian companies is bearing fruit.”