Solar

Suntech plants first US flag in AZ

Suntech Power Holdings has narrowed its planned first US manufacturing plant in Arizona to the town of Goodyear. The site will start with 30MW of initial production capacity, eventually ramping to >120MW.

January 28, 2010 – Suntech Power Holdings has narrowed its planned first US manufacturing plant in Arizona to the town of Goodyear. The site will start with 30MW of initial production capacity when it comes online (projected 3Q10), eventually ramping to >120MW.

Suntech’s work in the area also will involve collaboration with nearby Arizona State University (home to a Suntech-powered 1.6MW building-mounted PV project), and the company also plans to install on-site solar parking structures to generate electricity for the plant (and shade for workers).

Factors in selecting the site included state renewable energy standards and policies (both utility-scale and rooftop installations), a supportive business climate in the greater Phoenix area, and “availability of local manufacturing-ready facilities. The company wanted a US site to more directly tap the national market for solar PV, projected to grow sixfold to >2GW by 2012.

“Taking the step to bring manufacturing to the US is a strategic move for our North American business, and we’re focused on making the most of our investment,” said Steven Chan, Suntech’s chief strategy officer, in a statement. “With our Goodyear facility, we have the opportunity to design a truly innovative module manufacturing center that can accelerate innovation, allowing us to deploy new products designed to meet the burgeoning US solar market. Having a facility here in the US will also reduce the time, costs and greenhouse gas emissions associated with shipping panels from overseas.”

Goodyear/Phoenix’s gain is a loss for other local towns, which had lobbied for the site since its original determination to be somewhere “in the greater Phoenix area.” Hugh Hallman, mayor of Tempe, one of six other sites that had contended for the Suntech plant, was gracious in defeat, noted that any jobs coming into Arizona are good for everyone.

Suntech is a top player in crystalline silicon PV cells and modules, having last year achieved >16.5% efficient multicrystalline silicon modules, based on its new “Pluto” cell technology.