- SPI Energy intends to procure 1.5 GW solar wafer production equipment and start delivery by 2023
- It plans to expand the solar wafer manufacturing capacity in the US to 3 GW by 2024
- Clearing of the IRA and the incentives it promises for local solar production in the US prompted the company to finalize the plans, it stated
As per the US Department of Energy (DOE), there has been no production of solar wafers in the country since 2016, but it could change soon as SPI Energy has signed a letter of intent to secure solar wafer manufacturing equipment for 1.5 GW capacity, and increase it to 3 GW by 2024.
The idea is to have the 1.5 GW line up and running by 2023, and expand the company’s solar wafer manufacturing capacity to 3 GW by 2024.
However, SPI did not share where the company plans to locate its wafer facility and where it plans to source polysilicon from which also needs to be converted into ingots before being sliced as wafers. Nor did it disclose who will be the supplier of this equipment.
The decision to foray into wafer production was firmed up by SPI quickly after the US government cleared the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) that promises to incentivize solar wafer production with up to $12.0 per m² for each solar wafer produced. There are production incentives for modules too (see Huge Solar Boost Expected After US Senate Passes Climate & Clean Energy Bill).
“I am very grateful to see the bill passed, as it will not only lower energy prices and help the country meet its climate goals, but boost US manufacturing and create jobs,” said Xiaofeng Denton Peng, Chairman and CEO of SPI Energy. “As a global expert in renewable energy industry and solar wafer mass production pioneer, we are able to start the state of art solar wafer manufacturing facility in USA with leading technologies.”
SPI Energy is a global renewable energy company and provides solar, storage and electric vehicle (EV) solutions to customers across the board, and also produces solar modules under the SolarJuice brand.
In February 2022, SPI said SolarJuice will be upgrading its Sacramento, California module fab to 1.1 GW by H2/2022, up from 200 MW (see North America PV News Snippets). It acquired the existing lease for 140,000 sq. ft. Sacramento facility from Sunergy in December 2021.
A solar pioneer, Peng was also the founder of LDK Solar in 2005, once the largest solar wafer manufacturer in the world, which later also vertically integrated, but filed for bankruptcy in 2015, according to Wikipedia.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) says the right application of IRA incentives can help the country exceed a 50 GW manufacturing goal for all key segments as polysilicon, wafers, cells, modules, inverters and trackers by 2030 (see Roadmap For 50 GW US Solar Manufacturing).