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China's Suntech to Build Its First U.S. Plant

Modules will be made with imported PV material

1 min read

It's another first for China's top solar company. Last year Suntech moved into the Number Two position among global photovoltaics manufacturers, and according to the analysts at iSupply, it's expected to take the Number One spot this year. That puts it ahead of its closest competitors, Japan's Sharp and Germany's Q Cells. In late August, Suntech announced that it had achieved a record-high conversion efficiencies in multicrystalline silicon PV of 15.6 percent, surpassing the 15.5 percent record set 15 years earlier by Sandia National Labs. Now Suntech has announced it will build a module manufacturing plant in Arizona, the first such factory to be erected by a Chinese company in the United States.

Relying on imported PV material from China, by being located near its markets the plant will economize on module shipping costs while--at the same time--helping the Chinese fend off concerns about export of U.S. jobs to their country.

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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