Solar Leader Brings Green Manufacturing Jobs from China to the United States
Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (NYSE: STP) has just announced that its first U.S. manufacturing plant for the growing North American market would be located in the Greater Phoenix, Arizona area. The plant will have an initial production capacity of 30 megawatts (MW) and is expected to begin production in the third quarter of 2010.
The announcement makes Suntech the first Chinese cleantech leader to bring manufacturing jobs to America. Suntech selected the Greater Phoenix area for its plant because of Arizona’s leadership in research through Arizona State University, and statewide renewable energy policies, particularly its Renewable Energy Standard and distributed generation set-aside, as well as a supportive local business climate represented by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. The Suntech U.S. plant will employ over 75 full-time employees at launch and may double its staff within the year as the North American market develops.
Initially starting with 30 MW of PV module production capacity, the Suntech plant is configured for growth to respond to the expected expansion of the U.S. solar market in the coming years. The U.S. market had 356MW of solar PV capacity installed during 2008 (source: Photon Magazine, Nov. 2009), and is expected to grow six-fold to more than 2GW by 2012 (source: Solarbuzz LLC, Mar. 2009).
"Bringing manufacturing jobs to the U.S. is part of Suntech’s vision to grow the solar market in every corner of the world," said Suntech’s Chairman and CEO Dr. Zhengrong Shi. "We are eagerly watching growing markets and see the potential of bringing manufacturing capabilities to other markets where we see the combination of rapid local market growth and manufacturing cost competitiveness."
Locating the plant close to Suntech’s U.S. customers will reduce the time, costs, and emissions associated with long-distance shipping of Suntech panels. The plant, which will be approximately 80,000 to 100,000 square feet, will allow for long-term growth of manufacturing capabilities to meet increasing American demand for solar power.
"Suntech has been a leader to watch for some time, and its decision to bring manufacturing here to the U.S. is a great sign of the increasingly important collaboration between Chinese and American leaders in the renewable energy industry, as well as the potential for growth of green jobs in countries that implement smart, supportive policies," said Dan Kammen, Professor in the Energy and Resources Group and Director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Shi continued, "This is the first step in what I see as a long-term, strategic investment in the North American market. Over the last two years we have grown our U.S. team to over 60 employees. As a result of that effort, we have developed a network of over 200 solar dealers and integrators installing Suntech products and are actively involved with a number of large-scale solar project developers serving the utility market. We also have developed strong partnerships with U.S. companies such as MEMC of Pasadena, Texas, our largest supplier of silicon wafers used in our modules. The leadership shown by the US government in advancing renewable energy will only improve the environment for further investments in the coming years."
Suntech plans to make a final decision on the specific location of the plant in the coming weeks.
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