Suntech Power Would Like To Remind You They're Pretty Awesome

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Suntech Power (STP) put out a reminder today that it’s producing lots of solar panels that convert an imnpressive 19% of the sun’s energy into electricity via their Pluto technology. The company even had it verified by a third party in Germany.

Suntech recently sent a number of Pluto PV cells to the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Germany for third party verification. The Fraunhofer Institute test results included a mono-crystalline Pluto PV cell with a conversion efficiency of 18.8% and a multi-crystalline Pluto PV cell with a conversion efficiency of 17.2%. Both PV cells were produced on Suntech’s 34MW Pluto production line utilising solar grade silicon wafers.

The company probably wanted to remind the world of their awesomeness (in their opinion) because the Chinese government yesterday announced that it would subsidise solar purchases to the tune of $3 a watt. SunTech wants people thinking of taking advantage of this subsidy to know about their superior technology.

So far, it’s not working, the stock is down 6% for the day. Probably a result of profit taking from yesterday’s massive jump, in combination with the realisation that the Chinese subsidy isn’t all that.

Also not helping things is the negative report that FBR Research put out this morning, warning investors to expect more writedowns soon. The weak demand for panels hasn’t eased in the first quarter of 09 and the high cost of finished goods inventories laying around are going to play havoc coming earnings time.

Full Release:

Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (NYSE: STP), the world’s largest photovoltaic (PV) module manufacturer, today announced that it is routinely utilising the Pluto technology to produce PV cells with conversion efficiencies of approximately 19% on mono-crystalline PV cells and 17% on multi-crystalline PV cells.

Suntech recently sent a number of Pluto PV cells to the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Germany for third party verification. The Fraunhofer Institute test results included a mono-crystalline Pluto PV cell with a conversion efficiency of 18.8% and a multi-crystalline Pluto PV cell with a conversion efficiency of 17.2%. Both PV cells were produced on Suntech’s 34MW Pluto production line utilising solar grade silicon wafers.

Dr. Stuart Wenham, Suntech’s Chief Technology Officer said, “We are very excited about the performance of the Pluto technology. We are consistently achieving around 19% conversion efficiency on Pluto mono-crystalline PV cells and around 17% on Pluto multi-crystalline PV cells in large scale production, compared to 16.5% and 15.5% respectively using conventional screen-printed technology.”

Dr. Wenham added, “The ability of the Pluto technology to significantly improve the conversion efficiency of both mono and multi-crystalline silicon PV cells is one of its unique characteristics. This will give Suntech the flexibility to offer a complete range of high efficiency solar products. In particular, we believe that Suntech’s multi-crystalline Pluto modules will be one of the most efficient multi-crystalline silicon PV modules in commercial scale production world-wide.”

Dr. Zhengrong Shi, Suntech’s Chairman and CEO said, “Pluto delivers on the key requirements of the solar industry — high efficiency, high stability, and high power output — without utilising higher grades of silicon. With Pluto-enabled Suntech products, our customers will realise improvements in space utilization and reduced balance of system costs, without increasing the cost of production, making Pluto well suited to commercial scale production and roof top applications.”

The patent-pending Pluto technology is based on the PERL technology, developed by the University of NSW in Australia, which has achieved a world record efficiency of 25% in the laboratory. Pluto should improve power output by approximately 12% above conventional screen-printed PV cells. Unique texturing technology, with lower reflectivity, ensures more sunlight can be absorbed throughout the day even without direct solar radiation, and thinner metal lines on the top surface reduces shading loss. Suntech’s Pluto technology can be applied to a variety of grades of silicon to suit multiple applications and product types.

Dr. Shi added, “The commercialization of the Pluto technology is the result of years of world-class research and development and is a milestone achievement for Suntech. With over 350 professionals in our R&D team spanning three countries, technology is a central element of our strategy to drive the cost of solar towards grid parity without incentives. Aside from developing high conversion efficiency PV cells, our R&D team is also engaged in the development of new solar applications and building integrated products, material and component optimization, encapsulation technology, and power output optimization and stabilisation.”

Suntech anticipates ongoing enhancement of the Pluto technology and targets to achieve 20% conversion efficiency on mono-crystalline PV cells and 18% on multi-crystalline PV cells within the next two years. Suntech currently has a fully operational 34MW Pluto PV cell line and targets to have a total of 100MW installed Pluto capacity within the next two months. Suntech expects to receive industry certification for Pluto PV modules in the second quarter of 2009 and targets to ship more than 50MW of Pluto modules in 2009. “Pluto” is a trademark of Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd.

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