GOODYEAR & SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, the world's largest producer of solar panels, has opened its first US manufacturing plant in Goodyear, Arizona.
The new module production facility has an initial 30MW of annual capacity and will employ more than 75 operators, engineers and professionals by the end of 2010. Due to strong interest from customers, Suntech is already making plans to expand the facility to 50MW early next year and targets to employ more than 150 people by the end of 2011.
"Suntech Goodyear represents our efforts to grow jobs in Arizona while demonstrating the importance of renewable energy, like solar, in diversifying and strengthening our state economy," said Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who presided over the grand opening ceremony.
"The US 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."
The 117,000 square foot facility features state-of-the-art manufacturing and testing equipment and will initially focus on producing Suntech's 280W Vd-series modules, primarily used for commercial and utility-scale electricity generation.
All modules produced at the facility will be compliant for procurement in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects. Suntech plans to expand the facility, in concert with the growing US solar industry, to reach up to 120MW of annual production capacity. In addition, the local operation will bolster solar research collaboration between Suntech and Arizona State University.
"Our new US manufacturing plant will provide a local platform to meet the burgeoning demand for solar products in the US and Canadian markets, which we expect to exceed 1GW for the first time in 2010," said Steven Chan, President of Suntech America.
"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. In fact, we are growing so fast that in the third quarter of 2010 alone we shipped more than our total 2009 shipments to the North American market."
Suntech selected Goodyear based on a combination of factors, including costs, logistics, and statewide renewable energy policies, as well as a supportive local business climate. The Greater Phoenix Economic Council played a key role in assisting Suntech with its selection process.
Suntech remains encouraged by Arizona's clear and consistent policy commitment to the growth and development of solar, including the state's policy to meet 15 percent of its energy consumption with renewable sources by 2025 and distributed generation set-aside.
"Solar jobs follow solar installations, and more than 60% of all industry jobs are created in sales, finance, and installation, in jobs that cannot be exported. On average, the solar industry employs about 15 to 30 people for every MW of installed solar capacity - six to eight times more than the traditional energy industry," noted Dr. Zhengrong Shi, Suntech's founder, chairman, and CEO, at the grand opening.
"The governments that advance clear and consistent policies to diversify with clean energy will create thousands of green jobs while achieving energy security."
"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," added Dr. Zhengrong Shi. "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."
On October 12-14, Suntech will be displaying its new, US-manufactured, ARRA-compliant solar module at the Solar Power International show (Booth #3527) at the Los Angeles Convention Center, CA.