Suntech announced at the US China Green Tech Summit that its first US manufacturing facility will be built in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area. The company hopes for the plant to begin production in the third quarter of 2010 with an initial capacity of 30MW. No specific location has been decided upon yet, but the company aims to make its final decision in the coming weeks.
“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.”
This move makes Suntech the first Chinese cleantech company to bring manufacturing jobs to the States. By locating the plant in closer proximity to the company’s US customers, they hope to reduce time, costs and emissions that come with the long-distance shipping they currently carry out. The plant is anticipated to be between 80,000 to 100,000 square feet and will allow for long-term growth to meet the needs of the American solar industry as they increase.
Suntech chose the Phoenix area for several reasons, which included Arizona’s leadership in research with the help of Arizona State University and its statewide renewable energy policies; in particular the Renewable Energy Standard. They also found the area to have a supportive business climate, which was represented by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.
Dr. Shi concluded, “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.”
The Arizona facility will employ over 75 full-time employees at its launch with plans to potentially double its staff within the first year as the North American market continues to develop.