Monday, October 11, 2010

Suntech Opens Solar Panel Factory in Arizona

One of the world’s largest solar panel manufacturers has opened its first US factory in Goodyear, Arizona.

When fully up to speed, the Suntech Power Holdings facility should have an initial 30-megawatt annual production capacity, with more than 75 operators, engineers and other professionals set to be hired by the end of 2010.

The Chinese company, which has its US headquarters in San Francisco, said strong demand for its solar panels means it is already planning to expand the new plant to a 50MW annual capacity early next year.

It has a target to employ more than 150 people by the end of 2011.

Ultimately, Suntech plans to expand the facility to reach up to 120MW of annual production capacity, it said.

Steven Chan, President of Suntech America, said the new facility would provide a local platform for his company to pursue the US and Canadian markets, which he said were set to exceed 1GW in 2010.

Mr Chan said: “This new facility represents yet another milestone of our ongoing investment in North America. Aside from our manufacturing facility, we already have more than 75 people on the ground in North America, a dealer network that includes close to 400 partners, and we are continuing to grow.”


Suntech will focus on manufacturing and testing of its 280W Vd-series modules at the 117,000 square foot facility, modules aimed at commercial and utility-scale projects.

The company said a range of factors had led to its locating the plant in Goodyear, including costs, logistics and Arizona’s renewable energy policies. The location will also allow for research collaboration with Arizona State University.

Dr Zhengrong Shi, Suntech’s founder, chairman, and CEO, said at the opening of the new plant: “The initial capacity of our Goodyear facility is three times larger than our first module production facility built eight years ago, in 2002; and the cost of generating solar energy has fallen by more than 50% since then.”

“Just imagine what we will accomplish over the next eight years as we work together and continue to drive solar to cost competitiveness in the United States, and everywhere under the sun,” added Dr Shi.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who presided over the grand opening ceremony, said the new factory would help grow jobs in Arizona as well as diversifying and strengthening the state economy.

She said: “The U.S. solar market is dramatically expanding, and Arizona must remain a competitive leader in the renewable energy sector. This plant strengthens our credentials as the solar capital of the world. It is an encouraging step for the growth of the solar industry, illustrating that Arizona’s forward-looking policies are resulting in local job creation.”


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