Heliene, a Canadian solar module manufacturer, has ambitious plans to expand its U.S. manufacturing footprint by producing 1 GW of solar modules and 1.5 GW of cells in a new facility in Minnesota. The company currently has manufacturing operations producing 800 MW of modules in Minnesota and 300 MW in Ontario, Canada.
The privately held company plans to invest about $145 million in the new facility, driven by the additional production tax credit and domestic content adder available through the Inflation Reduction Act. The investment comes from Orion Infrastructure Capital (OIC), which contributed $5 million in equity to Heliene and $150 million in credit for the new facility.
The plan is for the new factory, which is expected to be in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, to begin producing modules in 2024 and cells in 2025. Martin Pochtaruk, president of Heliene, told pv magazine USA that today the company is producing PERC modules, 80% of which are bifacial and 20% industrial rooftop large format. It plans to begin producing TOPcon modules by March 2024.
The new factory will be the company’s first to produce solar cells, and one of only a few that have announced plans to manufacture cells in the U.S. Pochtaruk noted getting cell production up and running requires the civil work to prepare the building, then the permitting process, which takes 6 months, then they’ll receive the equipment to start installation and testing…ultimately taking a total of 24 months. When asked how soon the company will ramp up to the 1.5 GW of cell production, Pochtaruk said that the company plans to start cells by July/August 2025, and it will take “a good 6 to 7 month to ramp up to 85% utilization”.
While the Inflation Reduction Act has a domestic content tax adder, pv magazine USA asked how much module content is currently sourced domestically. “Today we already have frames, encapsulant and back sheet, by December junction boxes and frame sealant. We still need ribbon and glass,” said Pochtaruk.
In October 2022 the company announced the opening of a 420 MW plant in Minnesota, adding to the company’s existing 150 MW operation in the state.
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