Friday, November 14, 2008

Trina Solar to open U.S. headquarters in S.F.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

San Francisco Business Times - by Lindsay Riddell

Trina Solar Ltd. will open its North American headquarters in San Francisco in the coming year, focused on selling its solar modules to the U.S. market.

The company (NYSE: TSL) was started as a solar installation business in 1997 and went public in 2006. It has about 5,000 employees.

The company shipped 75 megawatts of solar modules in 2007 resulting in $301.8 million in net revenue and $35.4 million in net income for the year. The company said it has secured longterm contracts for polysilicon — the conducting ingredient of its solar modules — and will develop its own polysilicon manufacturing plant to further boost its supply.

Yimei Wong, an executive of Trina Solar America, said it was too early to say how many employees might move to San Francisco or how large the office would be. She said San Francisco would be the company's American base and manufacturing would remain in Changzhou, China. The company is doubling its production capacity to 700 megawatts by the end of 2009.

The U.S. now makes up just 5 percent of the company's sales, while Germany, Spain and Italy, which provide lucrative subsidies for buying solar, account for the overwhelming majority of Trina Solar's business.

The company's new U.S. office was announced at the grand opening ceremony for ChinaSF, the San Francisco economic development office in Shanghai charged with helping companies from China locate in the Bay Area.

Wong said Trina Solar had been working with the ChinaSF office since late 2007, planning its eventual entrée to the U.S. market.

Because a quarter of San Francisco's population is Chinese, San Francisco has much to offer Chinese companies in the way of services, workforce and comforts like Chinese language schools, said San Francisco Assesor-Recorder Phil Ting, who chairs the ChinaSF advisory committee in San Francisco.

"We want to be the go-to city for any company looking to locate their company in North America," Ting said. "We think if we can get to that critical mass, we'll become the place to locate for companies from China.”

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