The Norwegian ingot and wafer manufacturer NorSun has announced plans to expand into the United States with a 5 GW solar wafer factory. To kickstart this ambitious project, the company has secured $8.53 million (NOK 90 million). These funds will also potentially bolster operations at their home facility in Ardal, Norway.
Over half the funds were sourced from two new investors: Statkraft Ventures, which contributed $3.79 million, and Årdal Energi, which chipped in $0.95 million. Additionally, continued financial backing came from longstanding shareholders Nysnø Klimainvesteringer, Scatec Innovation, and ABN AMRO Sustainable Impact Fund. Both the company’s management and several smaller shareholders also made contributions.
Erik Løkke-Øwre, NorSun’s CEO, mentioned that the company is currently navigating the early stages of its expansion strategy. The goals include securing sales contracts with wafer purchasers, and subsequently gaining financing for the proposed facility. NorSun is optimistic about finalizing these plans by the close of the year.
The company did not announce who those sales contracts might be finalized with though.
However, pv magazine USA has closely followed Meyer Burger’s move into the U.S.. We reached out to Dr. Gunter Erfurt, CEO of Meyer Burger, to determine how close the NorSun announcement was being followed due to the two companies’ existing relationship (NorSun and Meyer Burger sign wafer deal in Europe).
pv magazine USA: Is Meyer Burger in talks with NorSun to purchase these wafers?
Dr. Erfurt: We have a strong relationship with NorSun and purchase wafers already for our manufacturing in Germany. Expanding this business is in the interest of both companies. And worth mentioning: NorSun produces best in class n-type wafers which meet our technological requirements potentially better than the products of their competitors.
pv magazine USA: Was the existing Meyer Burger/NorSun relationship part of the motivating action to deploy this factory?
Dr. Erfurt: NorSun is aware of MB‘s growth plans and we are aligning these as [well] as possible.
pv magazine USA: Does Meyer Burger see a path to expand the U.S. solar cell/module assembly capacity to 5 GW/year?
Dr. Erfurt: Yes.
pv magazine USA: Does Meyer Burger have imminent plans to announce the expansion to 5 GW if it is possible?
Dr. Erfurt: Yes, as soon as we have firm projects to be communicated. We informed in today’s H1 2023 call that we expect further offtake agreements potentially within this year.
Meyer Burger recently already announced two gigawatts of solar cell manufacturing and a similar amount of module manufacturing capacity. Both the solar cell and solar module facilities have additional space to carry deploy additional manufacturing lines.
Recently, NorSun received a grant of EU53.6 million ($58.4 million) from the EU Innovation Fund. This grant aims to expand their current facilities’ ingot and wafer manufacturing capacity from 1 GW to 3 GW. The estimated cost of this expansion stands at $300 million. Construction will begin in the first quarter of 2024, and upon completion, the facility is expected to employ 300 people.
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