* Suntech aims for U.S. market share of 20 pct
China's biggest solar panel maker, Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd (STP.N), aims to triple sales in the United States market and expand its dealer network this year, a Suntech executive told Reuters on Monday.
"Suntech has been more in a situation where there is more demand for our products than we had supply," Suntech Chief Strategy Officer Steven Chan said in an interview. "If we had the ability to produce more panels, we could sell the panels."
His comments come as the solar industry is hoping for a rebound this year after a difficult 2009 when prices for solar parts fell and the credit crisis choked off funding for new projects.
Investors fear that proposed subsidy cuts in Germany, the world's largest solar market, could cast a pall over the market.
But Chan expects any panel price reductions in countries other than Germany to be "very, very tempered" because of increasing demand.
He is confident Suntech would be able to grow its share of the U.S. solar power market to 20 percent in 2010 from about 15 percent last year.
Suntech is expanding its capacity and announced last month that it has selected the city of Goodyear in the Phoenix, Arizona, area for the site of its first U.S. plant.
Chan said he expects Suntech to get a boost from a growing U.S. solar market, which some analysts say could double in size this year. He also expects business to continue improving as financing gets easier.
The company plans to add another 50 dealers this year in the United States to bring the total number of dealers to over 300.
The U.S. plant will begin production in September with an annual capacity of 30 megawatts with potential to expand to 120 megawatts.
Suntech is expecting a boost this year from a further fall in prices of polysilicon, the material that is used in majority of solar panels.
Chan expects polysilicon prices to fall to a range of $35-$40 per kilogram from the current price of about $55 per kilogram....MORE