China-Based Solar Company to Build in Arizona

In concert with Obama’s meeting with Chinese leader Hu and talk of more global cooperation between China and the US (see WSJ Article), comes news that Chinese Solar Power giant Suntech Power (STP) is going to build a manufacturing plant in Arizona. This is good news indeed. We here in America need the confidence of foreign businesses willing to locate on our soil. From the article:

From the U.S. China Green Tech Summit today, Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (NYSE: STP), announced that its first U.S. manufacturing plant for the growing North American market would be located in the Greater Phoenix, Arizona area. The plant will have an initial production capacity of 30 megawatts (MW) and is expected to begin production in the third quarter of 2010.

The announcement makes Suntech the first Chinese cleantech leader to bring manufacturing jobs to America. Suntech selected the Greater Phoenix area for its plant because of Arizona’s leadership in research through Arizona State University, and statewide renewable energy policies, particularly its Renewable Energy Standard and distributed generation set-aside, as well as a supportive local business climate represented by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. The Suntech U.S. plant will employ over 75 full-time employees at launch and may double its staff within the year as the North American market develops.

In the interest of full disclosure, we own 100 shares of STP although we’re still waiting to be back in the green for the price we paid. Every time it has dipped back to 13 over the past couple of months, I have considered buying more, but never worked up the nerve. BTW, none of this should be construed as financial advice or direction in any way — as a mere clinical social worker, I live in mortal terror of someone suggesting that I am capable of giving real financial advice. I am excited about the collaborative possibilities for China and the US, however, and want to share my first-hand knowledge of a new instance of such collaboration.

5 thoughts on “China-Based Solar Company to Build in Arizona

  1. They got a lot of sun in Arizona. What good news. The nuclear industry wants government subsidies to expand but I hope we won’t go there. This is such a better way.

  2. Beauty is always in the eyes of the beholder and frequently love affairs are as unrealistic as common sense tells us they will be. In actuality, the solar industry is dependent on government money and mostly unwise and silly laws that have little or nothing to do with reality. Solar electricl generating facilities are not cost effective, are less than reliable, and do not meet the needs of an energy demanding society. Solar technology is a polluter in the fabrication process. In Arizona, one nuclear plant, the Palo Verde nuclear generating facility, as I recall the last facility to recive a permit in 1985!, produces safe, zero-emmissions, cheap electricity for 1.9 million people and employs some 3,000-plus. One must also ask why U.S. taxpayers are likely to be funding a Chinese company to build products that have a limited and declining market–the solar industry is not doing well anywhere except in the hearts and minds of intelelctually challenged politicians and a less than capable U.S. Presdient.

    The U.S, is energy rich with 1000 years of coal, more than all the oil in the Middle East locked up off shore or in oil shales or tar sands, enough uranium to power 200 nuclear plants forever even without reprocessing, and lots of potential for more hydroelectric and geothermal development. All of this, if developed, would not require Chinese involvement.

  3. Where to start….

    Yes, solar is inefficient. But it will never become efficient, nor benefit from economies of scale w/o further investment & research. The market, in & by itself, will not provide the money for research. That leaves the gov’t.

    Yes, we have way more coal than we could ever use. But coal is dirty. “Clean coal” at the moment, is an oxymoron. But the coal industry does not seem to be truly interested in research to improve their product. Instead, they prefer to buy congresscritters to fashion laws to Big Coal’s benefit. That has to change.

    And, it’s not just the burning of the coal. About 12-18 months ago, a holding reservoir full of burnt coal refuse breached, and sent millions of gallons of water flooding over a river valley in Tenn. I may have some of the details wrong, but the basic facts are correct.

    As for nuclear, there’s the problem of disposal of the spent rods. They remain highly radioactive for a few 100,000 years, IIRC. Our best solution to this problem is to bury them in Yucca Mt in Nev. Whatever happened to that?

    So, Mr W, there are no good solutions. Just ones that are less bad. Solar is the greenest thing going, and the one producing the least amount of toxic residue. Bottom line, we need to go there, at least until we get to cold fusion.

  4. I always liked cold fusion and perpetual motion machines. Unfortunately, both can be found in a place far, far away, near Neverland. The technical issues of waste from nuclear energy plants, however, has largely been resolved. The “rods” of spent fuel are as I recall actually composed of pellets about the size of a pencil eraser, that are stacked to make a fuel rod, in that type of reactor. The entire storage facility of spent fuel of the Palo Verde facility in Phoenix was, as I recall seeing during a tour three years ago, a series of very special containers that occupied a space no larger than an ordinary home garage, and that was after 25 years of operation. Other nations, the French and Europeans especially, who are going heavily into nuclear power plant construction in order to diminish dependence on oil and coal, will reprocess spent fuel so that the resulting material can be reused to power other nuclear facilities. In this way, the waste is reduced some 90-plus percent and that garage sized storage area in Phoenix would end up being about the size of a kitchen table worth of waste. Unfortunately, the less than astute crowd of the current less than capable administration is opposed to more nuclear power plants or reprocessing spent fuel. Similarly, the administration refuses to allow the Nevada waste storage facility, constructed at a cost of billions of dollars, and engineered for safe high level waste disposal to function. There is a low-level waste site in New Mexico that has also been hampere by the agenda drivien administration and friends in Congress. The rest of the world, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East is going heavily nuclear. The U.S. has not built a single facility in 25 years and something like 50% of the 110 or so operating are scheduled for shut-down. There are another 120 or so U.S. reactors, used for surface ships, submarines or research. There has never been a U.S. reactor related accident caused fatality. The half-life of nuclear waste varies depending on the material produced, but again, reprocessing spent fuel largely eliminates this problem.

    The matter of coal is a bit more complex. Eastern coals are usually high sulfur and low ash the opposite of Western coals. All operating coal mines, subsurface or surface are required to be zero-discharge. Nothing is allowed to leave the mine site. The accident back East was the breaching of an ash retention area, as I recall after severe rains. I am not sure if this was a current or orphaned site, pre-current regulation. In any event it was not good, but mostly far less than the disaster portrayed. Coal has burnt naturally in some places for generations, underground and above ground and there is nothing “unnatural” in coal ash, althought there are “nasty” things present. In point of cat, the “dirty” part of coal is largely a creation of agenda driven folks set on making the U.S. a third world nation in terms of availability of cheap and abundant energy. When burned in modern facilities, and after being scrubbed for 99% of all emissions, coal is pretty clean. Carbon dioxide can be sequestered; ash waste reprocessed, sulfur dioxide used to make sulfuric acid as a part of making other useful chemicals, and even any mercury retained for other uses. Coal is abundant, efficient, cheap, and provides 54% or so of all our electricity. To stop using coal would mean increase costs of 100% to 400% in a family’s average utility bill and no substitute available. The only rational substitute is nuclear energy.

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