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Ubbink opens solar photovoltaics manufacturing plant in East Africa

Bringing together more than 30 workers from 7 tribes, Ubbink opened its East African solar photovoltaics manufacturing plant, tailoring products to appeal to the African market, from residential systems to power plants.

August 30, 2011 — Ubbink/Centrotherm Group, part of CENTROTEC Sustainable AG, opened Ubbink East Africa, its lean solar photovoltaics manufacturing facility that will serve as a local production center for Africa-focused PV products. Ubbink East Africa is based in Naivasha, Kenya, near Nairobi.

The manufacturing site will produce “small, efficient, sustainable, integrated systems” for the African energy market, said the company, which foresees sales for private homes and village energy sources, as well as solar power plants serving schools, hospitals, water supply infrastructure and telecommunications systems.

Haijo Kuper will lead operations at the new company. Within less than a year, more than 30 people from 7 tribes were training in solar cell production for the plant, which is currently producing more than a 100 high-quality KEBS-certified solar panels a day, said Kuper.

The plant, which Ubbink says is East and Central Africa’s first of its kind, was developed on European standards with preference for lean manufacturing techniques. The solar modules are made under the slogan “European Engineering: Made in Africa” to reflect the economic benefit and market opportunity of the region, said Jacko van der Stege, CEO of the Ubbink-Centrotherm Group and board member of CENTROTEC Sustainable AG.

In 2010, South Africa signed a deal with China’s Yingli Solar (YGE) to build a $435 million PV manufacturing plant with a local partner.

The Ubbink East Africa production facility is a part of the joint-venture between Ubbink and distribution partner Chloride Exide, a battery and renewable energy distributor in East Africa.

The establishment of the plant was supported in close cooperation and with financial support from the Dutch government through a Private Sector Investing program (PSI) to stimulate sustainable economic growth in development countries by supporting innovative projects.

In addition to the Netherlands, governments from Germany and India, among others, are interested in renewable energy growth in Africa. Germany will bolster trade with Africa in renewable energy, Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a visit there in July. India’s New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah has said that several renewable energy projects will be started in Africa.

The Ubbink/Centrotherm Group provides innovative building solutions and technologies to increase the energy efficiency of buildings and improve their indoor climate.

CENTROTEC Sustainable AG and its subsidiaries include Ubbink and Centrotherm, which have focused on gas flue systems and solar system components in the Gas Flue Systems segment, along with diverse other companies.

More information about Ubbink East Africa can be found at its website www.ubbink.co.ke.

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