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Chinese Solar Company Plans U.S. Manufacturing Plant

"Chinese Solar Company Plans U.S. Manufacturing Plant(by Elizabeth Balkan via SolveClimate)China-based solar producer Suntech Power announced plans this week to build
a manufacturing facility in the United States to serve the growing U.S.
market for large-scale utility projects and to take advantage of government
incentives."We believe in the outstanding long-term prospects of the solar energy
market in the United States" Suntech Chairman and CEO Zhengrong Shi said.The Suntech announcement reflects the value of federal and state incentives
for renewable energy. It also counters a favorite argument of climate
action opponents on Capitol Hill that shifting the United States to a clean
energy future will send U.S. jobs overseas.Suntech, the world's largest solar energy company in terms of photovoltaic
module production, said it could cut transport costs and emissions by
building closer to its market. The cost of shipping heavy renewable units,
combined with the fact that the U.S. and EU currently constitute the
majority of clean tech demand, makes local manufacturing facilities a
sensible strategy for long-term growth.Political considerations were also not lost on the company. Appealing to
both green jobs enthusiasts and those who perceive China as taking
manufacturing jobs from the U.S, Shi said he is hopeful that "initiating
manufacturing in the U.S. will drive further growth of green jobs."Suntech America President Roger Efird said as many as 1,000 jobscould be
created through Suntech's U.S. operations over the next few years. The
company plans to settle on a location in the next six months."We are currently in discussion with the governors of three different
states who have been recruiting us to build factories," Efird has said.In making the announcement this week, the company specifically identified
that its decision would be based on "local manufacturing incentives" and
"long-term policy commitments."National-level renewable electricity legislation is currently being
considered in Congress, and 28 states have their own renewable portfolio
standards in place that require utilities to generate a certain percentage
of electricity from renewable sources.In addition, the stimulus bill signed earlier this year provides federal
level loan guarantees, grants, and a 30% renewable-investment tax credit to
expand the development of renewables, plus state level incentive programs
are being formulated to include more extensive measures – including tax
holidays, loans and grants – aimed at attracting top companies. Some
states, like California and Colorado, have committed to solar-specific
subsidies for PV manufacturers.Texas is considering solar financing legislation that would allocate $500
million for solar incentives. While residential and commercial users would
be able to take advantage of rebates – in some cases more generous than
those being offered under the California Solar Initiative – 70% of the
dedicated funding would be earmarked for utility-scale applications.
Franchise tax exemption for manufacturers, sellers, or installers of solar
energy devices would put Texas-based companies capable of utility-scale
applications at a distinct advantage.Suntech is one of three major PV manufacturers worldwide that can handle
utility-scale applications.In addition to homing in on increasing state-level solar incentives,
Suntech may also be reacting to Chinese government initiatives and guidance.Late last month, Director Deputy-General Liu Hongkuang of China's main
economic and social policy making apparatus, the National Development and
Reform Commission, made a speech before a conference of government
officials and state-owned enterprises encouraging China's energy industry
to broaden overseas activities.While Liu did not specifically single out the solar sector, he explicitly
called on energy players to invest in manufacturing ventures overseas,
strengthen resource cooperation, and invest in "