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11/09/2009 10:23 AM     print story email story  

US Solar Manufacturers Struggling to Compete News

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.


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