A single shift will operate Suntech Power Holdings' only module assembly plant in the US following the loss of around 50 jobs.
Production at its assembly plant in Goodyear, Arizona will be reduced from an annual module capacity of 45MW to only 15MW as the company continues to restructure its manufacturing operations and combat industry overcapacity.
The company also claimed that the move was in response to higher production costs as a result of recent import tariffs imposed on solar cells imported into the US from China, for which Suntech had been given a 35.97% penalty.
Mick McDaniel, Managing Director of Suntech America said: “We will continue to produce solar panels in Arizona to meet the needs of our customers, particularly those who are willing to pay a premium for US-manufactured products. Our employees in Goodyear have done a tremendous job, however all PV manufacturers globally are facing challenging market and political conditions, and rationalizing production is necessary to maintain a competitive cost structure.”
The company also noted that production costs had increased due to a previous tariff imposed in 2011 for the import of aluminium used in the frames for PV modules.
“Subsequent to our decision to invest in Arizona, unnecessary upstream trade barriers have made it difficult and more costly to manufacture solar panels in the US. In addition, these new tariffs limit our ability to utilise Suntech's advanced solar cell technology imported from China,” added McDaniel. “We will continue to assess our options and if the political and business environment improves, we may reconsider expanding our manufacturing operations in the US.”