An employee checks solar power panels. China's largest solar panel maker Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd and a Tianjin-based trading company have won an $81 million contract from the United Nations. [Photo / Bloomberg]
TIANJIN - Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd, China's largest solar panel maker, and Peak International Trade (Tianjin) Co Ltd, have won a $81 million contract to provide portable solar power systems to United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions. The deal is the largest single UN contract to have been won by Chinese companies.
Solar products procured by the UN are portable solar-power systems, which will be delivered to the International Peacekeeping Force and its subordinate entities globally. The contract may be extended by two years, or even longer, if the operation is successful in the coming three years.
"It is currently a framework agreement because the final purchasing list has not been decided upon yet. Suntech will provide products in accordance with the UN's detailed requirements," Zhang Jianmin, a senior press manager with Suntech, told China Daily.
Suntech will primarily provide systems integration, including product delivery, installation and after-sales services.
Zhang said that the New York Stock Exchange-listed Suntech is not only a product manufacturer but is also now a systems integrater.
"During the past decade, the majority of Suntech's products have been exported. In the future, in addition to small-scale residential electricity projects, Suntech will probably carry out large-scale photovoltaic projects abroad, such as 700 megawatt (mW) power plants," Zhang stressed.
Shi Zhengrong, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Suntech, said that cooperation with Peak International Trade Co enabled Suntech to compete for the UN contract. Now, as the winning bidder, Suntech Power is promoting its small photovoltaic products worldwide with the help of the UN.
Founded in 1992, Tianjin-based Peak International, one of the UN's major registered suppliers, is becoming a regular bidder for the organization's large-scale procurement projects, with approximately 20 long-term supply contracts signed and an annual supply of orders. Previously, it had a long-term contract with the UN on a wastewater treatment system valued at about $80 million.
According to a report by China Trade News, the UN has a long history of purchasing new-energy products. Solar power has long been seen as a major source of green energy.
The annual yield of solar power is 8,000 mW in China, which accounts for more than half of the global output.
Shi Dinghuan, chairman of the Chinese Renewable Energy Society, said that the UN contract is a step towards global competition for China's green-energy companies and will be followed by more opportunities.
Statistics show that China's share in UN procurement is disproportionately low and is ranked 23rd among all the bidding countries.
Winning the UN contract offers Chinese companies not only profit but also a better international image, said Wan Jifei, chairman of the China Chamber of International Commerce.
"By winning the UN contract, Suntech will enlarge its market footprint in Africa and in the Americas. For instance, Africa is a promising market region not only for Suntech's small photovoltaic products but also the large ones. Therefore Suntech will seize its chance in these regions," said Cai Shijun, senior vice-president of Suntech.