The global company, with headquarters in China, opened its American branch in 2007 and manufactures 50 megawatts of solar photovoltaic panels at its plant in Arizona. It took about five years to install the first gigawatt on this continent.
Suntech Spokesman Walker Frost said the company anticipates it will take less than half as long to install its second gigawatt in the Americas.
“As solar’s value proposition improves, a number of non-traditional solar markets like Tennessee and North Carolina are exceeding growth expectations,” Frost said. “In addition, we’re particularly excited about new markets in Latin America including Mexico, Brazil, and Chile.”
“However, a growing percentage of our sales are now coming from various other states and countries throughout the region,” Frost said.
Solar companies around the world are diversifying geographically, Frost said. And more utilities and governments are recognizing value in solar applications as costs come down to be more competitive with fossil fuels and coal-generated power.
Of course, the competition has been hard on manufacturers as solar panel prices have plummeted and profit margins have become razor thin. But Frost said strong players will survive. And Suntech is the largest solar photovoltaic panel manufacturer in the world with more than 1,800 megawatts of annual production capacity at its plants worldwide.
“Although it’s a highly competitive period for manufacturers, as our industry goes through a necessary period of consolidation and maturation, it has never been a better time to be a solar customer,” he said. “Competition is good for consumers and ultimately the global solar industry.”
The company’s US solar panel manufacturing operation currently supplies panels only in the US. But Frost said there is always the possibility that the US plant could become an exporter.