Business / Solar firms warned on delisting

Suntech revels in bright future

By Liu Yiyu (China Daily) Updated: 2011-03-24 09:57

Suntech revels in bright future

Suntech's presentation board at the 2nd International PV Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition held in Beijing. [Photo / China Daily] 

SAN FRANCISCO - Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd, one of the world's largest solar panel makers, secured the No 1 position in the United States, which is expected to be the world's fastest-growing solar market soon.

The Wuxi, Jiangsu province-based company is supplying 800,000 solar panels to the 150 megawatt (mW) Mesquite Solar 1 project in Arizona. After the project's completion, Suntech will be the world's No 1 photovoltaic cell maker by output, according to Andrew Beebe, the company's chief commercial officer in the US.

Headquartered in San Francisco since 2007, Suntech America already boasts a 20 percent market share in the country and an equivalent presence in China.

Suntech rivals such as Trina Solar and Yingli Green Energy are also headquartered in California, which accounts for half of the US market, said Beebe.

"The US solar market will see its growth double next year," said Beebe.

As one of the greenest states in the US, California's electric utilities will be required to generate 33 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2020, according to the California Energy Commission.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said the US solar industry will be installing 10 gigawatts of solar capacity each year by 2015, which would power two million homes and spur enormous job growth in the country.

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Solar electricity now costs slightly more than fossil-fuel power, thanks to government subsidies, according to Beebe.

The federal incentives meet 30 percent of our costs, he said.

Demand for solar panels exploded in Europe in recent years due to generous government incentives, particularly in Germany, Italy, France and Spain. Recent pullbacks in those subsidies, therefore, have raised concerns of a dramatic drop in European demand.

"Europe will slow down after years of strong growth, and China still needs two to three years to take off," Beebe said.

With strong momentum in the US market, Suntech is planning to double or even triple its production capacity in its Arizona factory. Suntech plans to ramp up the facility to 50 mW of annual production capacity by mid 2011.

The manufacturer currently has 80 employees at its factory in Goodyear, Arizona. The company says it will boost staff numbers to 150 by the end of this year.

Suntech reported a better-than-expected fourth quarter revenue, a 62 percent increase from a year ago, the company said on March 8.

It expects its sales in 2011 to grow by a minimum of one-fifth and its revenue to reach $3.4 billion to $3.6 billion, up from $2.9 billion in 2010. Its revenue grew 71 percent in 2010 from 2009.


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