Chinese company JA Solar and Powerway PV have formed a joint venture to set up a solar module manufacturing facility in South Africa.

Located in Port Elizabeth’s COEGA Industrial Development Zone, the facility will supply modules featuring JA Solar’s high-efficiency cells to customers in the country and the broader Southern African region.

The companies expect to start production at the facility in the second quarter of 2014 with a targeted initial annualized capacity of 150MW and have the option to expand the production capacity up to 600MW to meet growth in regional demand.

At BBBEE Level 3 status, the facility is likely to create over 200 local jobs within the first year of production.

JA Solar executive chairman and CEO Baofang Jin said the facility will play a key role as the company seeks to benefit from the significant growth potential across the Southern African region.

"Improved cost-effectiveness is making solar an increasingly attractive energy alternative in South Africa. Having a presence on the ground will give us the local knowledge and qualification needed to identify and pursuit the best commercial opportunities while providing better services to our customers.

"We’re delighted to be working with Powerway South Africa, which has built up a powerful brand and an extensive sales network in South Africa through a long-established track record," added Jin.

Powerway South Africa managing director Charles Domingo said, "We’re seeing increasing demand for quality solar modules in the South African market and the central position of this facility means it is ideally located for Exports from the COEGA Port and will serve project sites in Northern Cape, Western Cape,Gauteng and the greater Southern Africa region.

"We already have a long and fruitful relationship with JA Solar and are delighted to be extending that into a new and exciting market."