If you are a solar panel maker, where would you install your products to show the world you are the market leader?
Yingli Solar picked the stadiums where World Cup matches will be held later this month.
Unlike other top sponsors such as Coca-Cola, Budweiser and Adidas, Yingli Solar has little to do with sports but it’s betting that out of more than 700 million expected viewers of this year’s matches, some will see its brand and remember it.
Yingli Solar has installed 27 sets of photovoltaic (PV) systems in World Cup venues including Arena Pernambuco and Maracana Stadium.
At Arena Pernambuco, the PV system is expected to generate more than 1,500 megawatt-hours of clean energy each year. This is equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of about 6,000 Brazilians. The system will meet 30 percent of the stadium’s electricity demand, according to Yingli Solar.
Viewers will see Yingli billboards in all 64 matches during the event for at least eight minutes per game.
However, sponsoring such a world-class extravaganza burns a lot of money. Also, Yingli Solar has yet to come out of the overcapacity rut. The company reported a loss last year.
Yingli Solar is the first renewable energy company to become a World Cup sponsor, starting with South Africa in 2010.
The strategy worked. Yingli’s stock surged more than 40 percent during the event and the company decided to extend its sponsorship from four months to four years.
When the PV industry slipped into recession in 2011, polysilicon and solar panel prices slumped beyond the expectations of Yingli Solar chairman and chief executive Miao Liansheng.
Still, the company thinks the Brazil World Cup is a good bet, although it said the financial details of the sponsorship cannot be disclosed.
Last year, the group recorded a loss of US$133 million while some of its rivals such as Canadian Solar and Jinko Solar achieved their turnover targets and returned to profitability.
Yingli expects to return to profit in the fourth quarter, along with a rebound in solar module prices.
The company is bidding for a project from the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and plans to increase shipments to about four gigawatts of installed solar panels this year, up 27 percent from last year.
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