Silicon Ranch and Nextracker announced that the two companies have come to terms on a master supply agreement to deliver 1.5 GW of Nextracker’s solar tracker technology to Silicon Ranch projects through 2024, with options to expand as Silicon Ranch’s portfolio grows.
Interestingly, the terms of the deal also includes a shared commitment by both companies to increase domestic supply and promote lower-carbon production processes. The emphasis on securing American-made products enables Silicon Ranch to support US manufacturing and job creation, improve the carbon footprint of its supply chain, and reduce volatility and logistics risks, and Nextracker has already taken steps to make its supply chain more U.S.-focused.
In April, Nextracker and JM Steel, a division of JENNMAR USA, announced a partnership under which a dedicated solar tracker production line was built on the campus of a new Steel Dynamics manufacturing facility near Corpus Christi, Texas. The new Nextracker production line will support about 50 new local direct jobs and provide multi-GW of solar tracker capacity annually. Earlier in May, Nextracker announced a second new manufacturing line dedicated to producing steel tracker components for use in utility-scale solar power plants, with this one located at Atkore’s Phoenix, Arizona facility, which has been expanded and reconfigured with new capacity dedicated to Nextracker products.
As for the carbon footprint aspect of the agreement, the Steel Dynamics facility utilizes electric arc furnaces in its manufacturing, which have been described as a “next-generation” process for steel fabrication, one which can lead to electric arc furnace facilities being up to 75% less carbon-intensive than traditional blast furnaces. As for the new Atkore manufacturing line, it has not yet been shared whether or not the company will look to institute low-carbon fabrication practices.
Today’s deal also marks the second such large component supply agreement that Silicon Ranch has closed this spring. In April, First Solar announced had come to terms on a multi-year master supply agreement with Silicon Ranch to supply 4 GW of advanced thin film photovoltaic modules to Silicon Ranch’s projects in the United States from 2023 to 2025.
While this is not the first supply partnership to be reached between the two companies, the level of commitment dramatically expanded on their prior partnership, under which First Solar supplied modules to over 30 projects totaling more than 1 GW since 2015. The deal uses First Solar’s agile contracting approach, which means that Silicon Ranch will benefit from any advances in technology First Solar achieves prior to the first delivery of modules. The contract also includes a recycling clause, under which end-of-life CadTel modules from Silicon Ranch projects can be processed by First Solar’s recycling program, which recovers approximately 90% of CadTel material, allowing those materials to be used to manufacture new modules.
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