It has been taken as an article of faith among opponents of solar tariffs that such action would not result in new cell and module manufacturing capacity. However, in the past three months pv magazine has reported five instances of either U.S. module manufacturing expansions or Asian companies planning to relocate factories in the United States.
As the latest, sources have revealed to pv magazine that Mission Solar Energy will double its manufacturing capacity to 400 MW per year by installing module lines in a new facility in San Antonio, where its current module facility is located.
This will make Mission Solar Energy one of the largest module makers in the United States. Assuming the Tesla/Panasonic “gigafactory” in Buffalo ramps as planned, this would put Mission as the fourth-largest module maker in the nation, after Tesla/Panasonic, First Solar and SolarWorld.
It may be tied for this position assuming that China Sunergy finishes the module factory it announced a year ago; however the company has not responded to pv magazine requests for information as the progress of this facility.
The move by Mission to add more module lines follows on its announcement shortly after the Section 201 decision that it was hiring 50 workers so as to reach its full 200 MW of module capacity. It also follows on the company securing a supply contract to PetersenDean Roofing and Solar.
The company has not revealed any plans to make cells, as it previously did before shutting down its cell lines. Instead, Mission should be able to take advantage of the exemption in the Section 201 tariffs for the first 2.5 GW of imported cells, which is far more than is needed for all existing U.S. module makers.