- Enel North America’s 3Sun USA, LLC will build a 3 GW bifacial HJT solar cell and module fab in the US
- Plan is to start construction in mid-2023 and start selling initial panels by the end of 2024
- Currently it is looking for a suitable location for the fab which will eventually be scaled up to 6 GW annually
Spurred by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Italy’s Enel Group through Enel North America has announced plans to establish a bifacial heterojunction (B-HJT) solar cell and module manufacturing fab in the US with 3 GW annual capacity initially, to be expanded to 6 GW, which will also bring domestic solar cell making capability to the US.
“The facility is expected to be among the first in the United States to produce solar cells, the fundamental building block of PV modules,” stated Enel that will task its affiliate 3Sun USA, LLC to build the project.
The new fab will be based on the company’s 3Sun Gigafactory in Catania, Italy where Enel was producing 200 MW bifacial HJT solar modules in a pilot plant that was expanded to 3 GW annually with European Union (EU) funding (see 3 GW Bifacial HJT Modules Fab In Europe). In the meantime, the pilot plant has been dismantled as the company is working full speed on setting up the 3 GW cell/module fab at the same place for which it received €118 million from the first call of the European Innovation Fund for Large-Scale Projects.
At 3Sun, Enel was able to produce cells with 24.63% efficiency in 202. In the long-run, it plans to bring in a tandem structure to further improve overall cell efficiency to even exceed 30%.
It is currently scouting for a suitable location for the new US fab. Construction is expected to begin in mid-2023 to bring first panels to the market by the end of 2024. By 2025, it hopes to expand the 3 GW annual capacity to 6 GW and create 1,500 new direct jobs.
“Recent policy tailwinds from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) have served as a catalyst for our solar manufacturing ambitions in the US, ushering in a new era of made-in-America energy,” said Head of Enel North America, Enrico Viale. “With this announcement, it is our intention to bolster a robust domestic solar supply chain that accelerates and strengthens the US’s transition to clean energy.”
The news follows on another manufacturing announcement this week – American module maker First Solar has opted for Alabama to locate its 4th US manufacturing fab with 3.5 GW DC annual capacity (see First Solar Picks Alabama For New US Module Fab). The IRA has already triggered several US companies to announce expansion in the US – including
European solar companies increasingly look to invest in US
Incentivized by the highly attractive IRA, European companies increasingly are looking to invest in the US rather than in the European Union (EU) which is offering nothing in comparison. Though manufacturing and expanding in Germany, European HJT cell/module pioneer Meyer Burger from Switzerland is now heavily leaning to the US, where it also landed a 3.75 GW to 5.0 GW module order from US renewable energy developer DE Shaw Renewable Investments (DESRI) for utility scale projects, to be delivered within 5 years starting from 2024 (see 3.75 GW DESRI Order For Meyer Burger In US). Meyer Burger CEO Moritz Borgmann was recently quoted in German media as saying ‘the European Commission will lose a lot of production sites as a consequence of its denial for its own active industrial policy.’
And whileNorway’s REC Group has been selected as one of the 17 winners of the European Commission’s (EC) 2nd round of Innovation Fund awards, paving the way for the company to build a 2 GW HJT solar module manufacturing fab in France, there is still no news on the status of the project (see REC Group’s French Plans Win EU Funding).
Moreover, in October it became public that Maxeon Solar shut down its solar PV manufacturing facility in France’s Porcelette citing challenging price environment (see Maxeon Solar’s French Production Line Discontinued). The factory closure in France happened despite being selected in the small scale EU Innovation Fund, whereas Maxeon is now proceeding with its US manufacturing plans. During the recent Q3/2022 financial results call, Maxeon management said the company remains on track to achieve 1.8 GW of its P-series module production capacity in early 2023 in the US, while plans are also moving forward for an incremental 3 GW of cell and module fab in the US that’s timed to come online in 2025 (see Maxeon’s Q3/2022 Revenues Went Up 25% Annually).
Speaking of HJT solar cell technology, TaiyangNews is getting ready to host our flagship event, Virtual Conference on High Efficiency Solar Technologies—TOPCon, HJT and Beyond, Today & Tomorrow, to be held between November 23-25, 2022. Registrations for the event are free, and open here.