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U.S. island territories harness SolarWorld solar panels to tap ample sun, cutting reliance on pricey oil imports

SolarWorld solar panels paralleling a runway at Cyril E. King Airport on the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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HILLSBORO, Ore., Sept. 12, 2011 – Visitors landing on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands will notice a 1,600-foot-long array of ground-mounted SolarWorld solar panels paralleling a runway at Cyril E. King Airport. The 450-kilowatt system, to be unveiled on Sept. 14, is prominent among a recent series of high-performance SolarWorld solar panel installations to counter high power rates on U.S. island territories.

These sun-washed islands, heavily reliant on burning imported oil products to generate power, are using SolarWorld technology to tap their own plentiful energy resource to produce clean electricity and avoid power prices ranging around 40 cents a kilowatt-hour, compared with the national average of 9.7 cents. Operations of SolarWorld, the largest U.S. solar panel producer for more than 35 years, began supplying U.S.-centric islands around 1980.

“Tropical islands may be the stuff of fantasy,” said Kevin Kilkelly, president of SolarWorld Americas, “but the reality of island electricity rates is driving strong adoption of SolarWorld panels as an effective form of rate relief.”

Employees of SolarWorld partner installer OneWorld Sustainable of Lexington, Ga., worked to install the 1,806 panels at the Caribbean airfield side-by-side with students from the University of the Virgin Islands who were seeking hands-on training, said Tim Blackwell, president and CEO of OneWorld Sustainable.

Seventeen buildings in American Samoa will soon generate electricity using SolarWorld solar panels, another step in cutting the island’s reliance on burning No. 2 diesel oil for power generation. SolarWorld will supply the 350 kilowatts of solar panels to be installed on 10 schools and seven government buildings on the U.S. territory in the South Pacific. The project, to be installed by Island Energy and Marine of Pago-Pago, Samoa, comes on the heels of a 680-kilowatt installation using SolarWorld panels on 24 buildings. Funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the buildings included 10 commercial, 12 government and two non-profits buildings.

On the U.S. western Pacific territory of Guam, records for solar system size seem to fall every few months. Scott Hagen of Pacific Solar and Photovoltaic completed a 24.84-kilowatt installation on a library at Guam Community College late last year, then commissioned a 29.4-kilowatt system on a college health education building in May.

SolarWorld’s U.S. manufacturing is a key selling feature to his customers, Hagen said. “We get approached by Taiwan and Korea to buy their products because they’re just around the corner, but it’s very important to us to support the U.S. economy,” he said.

SolarWorld Real Value

SolarWorld manufactures and sells solar power solutions and in doing so contributes to a cleaner energy supply worldwide. As the largest solar producer in the United States and Europe, SolarWorld employs about 3,200 people and carries out production in Hillsboro, Ore., and Freiberg and Arnstadt, Germany. From the raw material silicon to solar wafers, cells and panels, SolarWorld manages all stages of production ‒ including its own research and development. The company maintains high social standards at all locations across the globe and is committed to resource- and energy-efficient production. Headquartered in Bonn, Germany, SolarWorld was founded in 1998 and has been publicly traded on the stock market since 1999. For more information, visit

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Devon Cichoski
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SolarWorld Industries America
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