Suniva to restart idled solar cell factory in Georgia

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Suniva is proceeding with its plans to restart and modernize its manufacturing facility in Norcross, Georgia. Its goal is to kick off production this spring with a capacity of 1 GW and eventually scale up to 2.5 GW per year.

It has ordered equipment for the thermal process steps of annealing, diffusion and PECVD from Germany’s Centrotherm. The last of a total of three system packages for the 1 GW production line will be delivered in January, the German PV equipment supplier said this week.

“Centrotherm already supplied turnkey production lines to Suniva in 2008 and 2009, and we are proud to contribute to the resurgence of the photovoltaic industry in the USA,” said Jan von Schuckmann, CEO of Centrotherm. “As part of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which supports domestic manufacturing of clean energy equipment, we expect further impetus from the US market.”

Since its passage in August 2022, the IRA has ushered in a new era of US clean energy manufacturing and installation. Based on tracking by nonpartisan trade group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), over 274 major clean energy projects have been announced across 41 states, leading to over $110 billion in private investment announcements and the creation of over 95,000 jobs. In 2023 alone, more than 80% of all projects and 95% of capital investments announced were in the manufacturing industry, said E2. 

Suniva announced plans in October to restart the idled factory in Georgia, which operated at around 450 MW of production capacity at the time of its closure in 2017.

“The reopening of production in Norcross is the first step in rebuilding solar cell manufacturing in the United States, which will bolster our country’s energy independence and security,” said Matt Card, president and COO of Suniva.

Once considered one of the largest solar cell and panel manufacturer in the United States, Suniva filed for bankruptcy in 2017 after claiming it could not compete with cheap solar imports.

In response to a Section 201 trade petition filed by Suniva and SolarWorld, the Trump administration imposed duties in 2018 on imported solar cells and panels for a period of four years. The tariffs were extended but somewhat eased by the US government in 2023.

According to Suniva’s Card, the tariffs have helped US panel production, but he credited subsidies contained in the IRA for finally enabling Suniva to produce solar cells again.

Suniva has been owned by New York investment firm Lion Point Capital since it exited bankruptcy in 2019. Last year, the manufacturer secured a $110 million financing commitment from Orion Infrastructure Capital which it said would use to purchase new manufacturing equipment.

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