Suntech opens first US manufacturing plant

The new solar module production facility, located in Goodyear, has an initial 30 megawatts (MW) of annual capacity. The company explained it will employ more than 75 operators, engineers and professionals by the end of the year.

However, due to "strong" interest from customers, Suntech said that it is already making plans to expand the 117,000 square foot facility to 50 MW early next year and targets to employ more than 150 people by the end of 2011. It added that it eventually plans to reach up to 120 MW of annual production capacity, “in concert with the growing U.S. solar industry”.

Initially focusing on producing the company’s 280W Vd-series modules, which are primarily used for commercial and utility-scale electricity generation, the facility features state-of-the-art manufacturing and testing equipment.

Suntech went on to say that all modules produced at the facility will be compliant for procurement in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects.

Furthermore, it said that the local operation will bolster solar research collaboration between Suntech and Arizona State University.

“Our new U.S. manufacturing plant will provide a local platform to meet the burgeoning demand for solar products in the U.S. and Canadian markets, which we expect to exceed one gigawatt 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 said it 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 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 percent 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.”