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UPDATE 1-Suntech aims to triple U.S. 2009 sales

(Recasts, adds details)

Oct 2 (Reuters) - Solar products maker Suntech Power Holdings Co STP.N said it aims to triple sales to the U.S. in 2009 after announcing expansion initiatives.

The company, based in the eastern Chinese city of Wuxi near Shanghai, said it formed a joint venture with MMA Renewable Ventures, forming Gemini Solar Development Company LLC.

Gemini Solar will seek to develop, finance, own and operate large-scale photovoltaic (PV) projects greater than 10 megawatts, the company said.

Suntech said it acquired EI Solutions, a California-based commercial solar system integration company, to target commercial, utility and government customers in the U.S.

The company also announced an expansion of its U.S. dealer network to increase penetration into the residential roof-top and small commercial system solar market and build brand recognition with downstream solar integrators.

Like many other Chinese solar products makers, such as Trina Solar Ltd TSL.N, Suntech generates most of its sales in Europe, where demand for solar energy has been strong because of generous subsidies from governments there.

“We see the U.S. market as on the cusp of enormous growth,” Steven Chan , Suntech’s chief strategy officer said in a statement, adding that the company was looking at meeting increased U.S. demand for renewable energy technologies. (Reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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