The world's first solar power billionaire is on a role. Not in Silicon Valley or Spain or even solar-blessed Arizona. In China. The global gold medal winner in solar profits: Shi Zhengrong, head of Suntech Power. They make photovoltaics sold the world over. Free sunshine, cheap labor and high energy prices=major profits for Suntech.
Suntech has reported Q2 profits 58% higher than forecast. Much of Suntech's sales are to Spain right now. Suntech's main material expense is for polysilicon, and the company says prices for that material will actually decline in 2009. How can they be sure? Well, Suntech just bought a majopr stake in a Russian polysilicon plant in Irkutsk. Investors were smiling as the company regained some of the stock price that had fallen earlier this year.
Zhengrong has been quoted saying Suntech will be an energy giant on the scale of BP or Shell in a decade. Not only is the Australian-educated entrepreneur perhaps the richest man in China. He is a PhD photovoltaic researcher and worked in Australia before returning home to found his own firm. Suntech, founded in 2001, has grown 100% annually. Still, Zhengrong says the company canot keep up with demand.
Here is Suntech's Englishg-language site. They're traded on the NYSE. This is not meant as a stock endorsement, simply a statement of fact. If you happen to be in Europe next month, Suntech will be a major exhibitor at the big solar show in Valencia, starts September 1.