* Plans to triple exports over the next 5 years
* Expects to build new 400 MW plant in Michigan
LOS ANGELES, April 1 (Reuters) - U.S. solar startup Suniva Inc, which makes high-efficiency solar cells and modules, said on Thursday it is sold out through 2010 and plans to triple exports over the next five years.
The company raised $75 million last year in a financing round led by private equity firm Warburg Pincus [WP.UL] LLC to expand its manufacturing capacity.
Demand for solar power products has rebounded after a difficult 2009, when the global credit crisis dried up financing for new projects and panel prices plummeted.
“Through the end of the year, we are sold out and we have customers who ask us for more product everyday,” Suniva’s Chief Executive John Baumstark said in an interview.
Norcross, Georgia-based Suniva’s solar cells and modules compete with those made by U.S.-based SunPower Corp SPWRA.O and Japan’s Sanyo Electric Co Ltd 6764.T, or Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd’s STP.N high-efficiency Pluto panels. Its customers include Germany’s Solon SE SOOG.DE and India’s Titan Energy Systems Ltd.
Suniva is planning to build a plant in Saginaw County, Michigan, which would produce some 400 megawatts of capacity per year. It is expected to be operational sometime in 2011.
Baumstark said the company is currently under consideration to get a $141 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy, to help fund the $250 million plant.
In February, the United States gave its biggest backing yet to a renewable energy project, guaranteeing $1.37 billion in loans for a California development by BrightSource Energy Inc.
Including production from the proposed Michigan facility, Suniva is expected to have an annual capacity of around 600 MW, and triple its exports in five years, said Baumstark.
Suniva exported more than 90 percent of its products to Asia and Europe last year.
Baumstark said the company has no firm plans for going public, but will do so when market conditions are favorable. (Reporting by Dana Ford, editing by Leslie Gevirtz)