What do Suntech's troubles mean for SA's Tindo?

Many of us remember a few years ago the announcement by Australian citizen Dr Shi Zhengrong - who obtained his doctorate in solar energy from University of NSW - that he was locating his fledgling solar panel manufacturing business to his native China. 

I thought at the time, there's another renewable energy industry leaving Australia's shores. At one time in the 1980's I remember Australia leading the world in solar energy development and manufacture. Not so today.

Back to "Suntech". At one time (in 2011) Dr Shi claimed that Suntech was supplying about 10% of the global market for solar panels. It was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2007 and became an overnight sensation, scaling the lofty heights to $16 billion stock market value.  

Suntech has now crashed to earth. It is now reported in The Age that Suntech Power and Dr Shi are in a spot of bother after defaulting on a $518 million bond repayment. Dr Shi has been extricated from Suntech by the company board, and he is now being investigated by Chinese authorities relating to financial matters that may have led to Suntech's insolvency.

So, what does this mean for South Australia's emerging solar panel manufacturer? TINDO SOLAR.

Have you heard of Tindo? They're located in the industrial park at Mawson Lakes. The manufacturing plant is relatively small, almost fully automated using robotics, and was officially opened by the Prime Minister in December 2012.

Here's an email I received on 17 March 2013 from Tindo's Manager - People and Business.

Dear Solar Enthusiast,

Once the largest solar manufacturer in the world and over the course of just the last 2 years it appears that Suntech may be very close to official bankruptcy.

I have been describing the business model employed by the Chinese manufacturers as unsustainable and this is now being proven. In fact I am not aware of a single Chinese solar manufacturer that has made a profit in the last three years and again this is not financially sustainable and does not bode well for the thousand of Australian who have in good faith installed a system that may in time not be backed by a manufacturer.

The Australian public need to be aware of this so they can activate their "buyer beware radar".


Clearly I can argue that Tindo is different; we have an open factory to allow the public free and regular access to validate the materials, systems and tests used in the manufacturer of the Tindo Karra 250, purchasers can trust that a Tindo module is made using the exact materials the panel was certified with and we are under no financial pressure to substitute materials in an effort to cut costs. Tindo is not Government funded and thus has  a business model that works to efficiently maintain financial viability. Tindo does not operate at the cheap or heavily discounted (dumped) end of the solar market and our pricing does have a small premium, particularly with the AC module which assists Tindo's on-going financial viability.

Open Days - 19th and 20th March - noon and 5 pm with each session running for 1 hr.

The public can Trust a Tindo.  


Richard Inwood
Manager - People and Business

I have visited the factory, and it is very impressive. 

And, at around $360 for a 250 watt panel, it's pretty good value. In fact, it's better than good, it's excellent value because Tindo announced a price drop in February (2013). 

When I had my solar power system upgraded 13 years ago, I paid $650 for an 80 watt panel. No wonder solar power systems were expensive back in those days. That was more than $8 per watt. Today, the Tindo price is less than $1.44 (with the price drop). 

When it comes time to replace my solar panels (hopefully not for another 17 years or so), then I'll go for a local manufacturer.

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