Suntech grabs 25% market share in California: U.S. plant plans imminent

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Although the realization has set-in that the expected U.S. solar market boom is increasingly becoming a 2010 affair, Suntech Power has already seen a significant increase in both sales and market share gains in the country, especially within California, which could be SunPower’s closest crystalline silicon competitor in the sunshine State. Suntech said it had notched-up approximately US$25 million in sales in California in the second quarter of 2009, close to 8% of sales in the quarter. The company claimed it had grabbed a 25% market share, up from only 8% in Q109, based on data supplied from the California Public Utilities Commission.

The all important pipeline of large-scale projects is also building strongly, according to Suntech’s Chairman and CEO, Dr. Zhengrong Shi in a conference call to discuss second-quarter financial results;

“We still view the U.S. as one of the high-potential, global solar market particularly in 2010 and beyond. To help capture this demand, we have made significant investments in the U.S. We currently have over 50 people based there. To-date, we have bid on over 2GW of projects with Gemini Solar and other project developers, and we are on the shortlist for nearly 1GW of projects that requires multi-year delivery starting from 2010 and beyond.”

With a significant U.S. pipeline in the making, Suntech has had to focus on reducing shipping costs as well as logistics in the country to ensure shorter delivery times and improve overall customer satisfaction as the competitive landscape is becoming increasingly intense due to the massive over-capacity in PV module supply.

In the short-term all PV manufacturers will need to improve logistical aspects of their businesses and should the market take-off in 2010 and beyond, local manufacturing will become essential to retain and build market share.

Zhengrong Shi noted in the conference call that previously announced plans to build a module plant in the U.S. was progressing well, with site selection now down to just two locations with a decision due in a couple of months.

Main rival to Suntech in California is SunPower, which said in July that based on the California Public Utilities Commission data, it had increased its market share in the State to over 30%, noting that it had extended its share lead from the first quarter.

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