Suntech Power Holdings has said that it would hold PV cell production capacity at 1GW in 2009, due to tight credit markets. The company reported full year 2008 shipments of 497.5MW, a 36% increase from 2007. Suntech now expects 2009 shipments to reach more than 800MW, indicating current capacity levels are sufficient to meet expected demand throughout the year. As a result, capital spending for 2009 would be drastically reduced.
In contrast, Suntech said that capital expenditures for the fourth quarter of 2008 reached US$109.1 million, allocated to expanding production capacity and new manufacturing facilities.
However, Suntech does expect to spend approximately US$100 million on equipment in 2009, despite the overcapacity. The company plans to further retrofit existing production lines to its next-generation, high efficiency Pluto cell technology as well as complete the building of its first thin film facility.
At the end of 2008, Suntech said that it had a 34MW Pluto PV cell line fully operational. The Pluto technology is claimed to achive conversion efficiencies of close to 17% on multi-crystalline PV cells and close to 19% on mono-crystalline PV cells. Suntech plans to add a further 68MW of Pluto capacity in 2009.