The Monday announcement isn’t surprising given that the Chinesecompany previously expressed an interest in setting up manufacturing inthe United States. Producing solar panels in the country would reducethe costs of transporting products, which are mainly produced in China.
It would follow a slew of European and other Asian companies thatare expanding their production here. Germany-based Schott Solar, forexample, is celebrating the opening of a solar panel and solar thermal receiver factory in New Mexico today.
Suntech currently produces its crystalline silicon solar panels inChina and its building-integrated solar products in Japan, the companysaid. It expanded its solar cell production capacity to 1 gigawatt peryear by the end of 2008, though it also said earlier this year that itwas producing in 50 percent to 60 percent capacity as a result of thesluggish market demand.
The company also is building a factory in Shanghai for producingamorphous silicon panels and planning to start with a 50-megawattcapacity in the second half of this year, according to its 2008 annualreport.
Suntech will likely find warm reception among states eager to create a solar manufacturing workforce. New York recently lured SpectraWatt away from Oregon. Oregon has attracted SolarWorld from Germany and Sanyo from Japan.