Suntech lands big Mexico order

Suntech will supply 30MW of modules to a landmark project in Mexico, representing its first major public order since the Chinese PV giant entered insolvency proceedings earlier this year.

The order comes from Portugal’s Martifer Solar, which in May was named EPC contractor at the Aura Solar 1 project in Baja state for the developer Gauss Energia.

The project will see more than 130,000 Suntech modules installed over 100 hectares of land at the first utility-scale PV array to land a power purchase agreement from the CFE, Mexico’s federal power utility.

To date, the only utility-scale PV on CFE’s books is a 5MW pilot array built by Iberdrola, also in Baja state. That array includes modules from a variety of suppliers, including Solar Frontier and Siliken.

Suntech claims the Aura project will be the largest PV plant in Latin American upon its planned completion in August.

“With Mexico’s excellent sunlight and strong renewable-energy demand, we expect to see excellent growth of PV in the region,” says E.L. McDaniel, managing director of Suntech America.

Hector Olea, chief executive of Gauss Energia, predicts that Mexico will have 2GW of PV capacity in place by the end of the decade, saying that Aura 1 is “first project of a larger initiative that aims to become a platform to develop utility-scale PV facilities in Mexico”.

Suntech, whose key subsidiaries were forced into bankruptcy after the company defaulted on its bond repayments this spring, has not announced any major module orders since last December, as potential customers wait to see how the insolvency proceedings play out.

The company has not yet filed its 2012 annual report nor any financial results from 2013.

Late last week Suntech, formerly the world’s largest supplier of PV modules, revealed that is various subsidiaries owe creditors nearly $1bn. Nearly half that debt is owed by the company’s principal manufacturing unit, Wuxi Suntech.