Two recent announcements from the U.S. solar industry indicate that low-cost manufacturing capacity in China is affecting the viability of production in North America.
General Electric (NYSE: GE) last week confirmed plans to close a solar panel manufacturing plant in Glasgow, Delaware, according to a report by The New Journal.
The plant is relatively small, employing only 82 workers, and as a result it is unable to achieve beneficial economies of scale for the crystalline silicon panels it produces.
Brian Yerger, president and CEO of the Wilmington, Delaware alternative-energy consulting firm AERCA Advisors, told The New Journal smaller U.S. facilities like the one in Glagow are unable to compete.
"If you do not have a technological advantage, and the Chinese can reproduce your technology, they're going to beat you every time," he said.
Evergreen Solar Moves to China
Similarly, Evergreen Solar (Nasdaq: ESLR), which spent millions of dollars to open a new facility in Devens, Massachusetts in 2008 announced that it will be moving all panel-assembly operations to China. The Devens facility will continue manufacturing silicon wafers and cells.
The company lost $167 million in 3Q09, compared to $33.6 million a year ago, as prices for assembled panels have fallen 30% over the last year.
Read further coverage by The Boston Globe at the link below.