The victors and losers in U.S. solar production in 2020

Nov 16, 2020 03:45 PM ET
  • As we liquidate 2020, the solar sector prepares to enter its last scheduled year with tariffs on imported solar panels. The Trump administration repetitively stated the tariffs were enforced to re-energize U.S. solar manufacturing. As well as while we did get some significant capacity enhancements in 2019, market revitalization has actually petered out considering that.

With 2 manufacturers closing store and only one brand-new entrant, the U.S. photovoltaic panel manufacturing industry actually shed 100 MW of production capability in 2020-- all in thin-film modern technology. The crystalline-silicon market-- which the tariffs aimed to prop up-- was stationary this year, however it will certainly obtain a huge boost in 2021 with a brand-new cell as well as module maker opening up with gigawatt strategies.

In the meantime, below's an evaluation of the domestic photovoltaic panel producing market this year.

Company HQ U.S. location Current Capacity Expected Capacity/ Expansion OEM Uses OEM Type Status
Auxin Solar USA San Jose, CA 150 MW   OEM   c-Si Producing
CertainTeed Solar USA San Jose, CA ~120 MW     Uses OEM c-Si Producing
First Solar USA Perrysburg/Lake Township, OH 1,900 MW +500 MW     CdTe Producing
Global Solar USA/China Tucson, AZ 50 MW   OEM   CIGS Suspended
Hanwha Q CELLS South Korea Dalton, GA 1,700 MW       c-Si Producing
Heliene Canada Mountain Iron, MN 140 MW +200 MW     c-Si Producing
JinkoSolar China Jacksonville, FL 400 MW       c-Si Producing
LG Solar USA South Korea Huntsville, AL 550 MW       c-Si Producing
Locally Grown Power USA Claremont, CA   ~13.5 MW     c-Si Under Construction
Lumos Solar USA San Jose, CA ~1 MW     Uses OEM c-Si Producing
Merlin Solar USA San Jose, CA ?? MW       c-Si Producing
MiaSolé USA/China Sunnyvale, CA 150 MW       CIGS Suspended
Mission Solar USA San Antonio, TX 200 MW       c-Si Producing
Next Energy Alliance USA Riverside, CA ~10 MW     Uses OEM c-Si Producing
Prism Solar USA Highland, NY 60 MW       c-Si Producing
Silfab Solar Canada Bellingham, WA 400 MW       c-Si Producing
Solaria USA Fremont, CA 40 MW       c-Si Producing
SolarTech Universal USA Riviera Beach, FL 80 MW       c-Si Producing
Sunergy California China McClellan Park, CA 400 MW       c-Si Unknown
SunPower USA Hillsboro, OR 150 MW       c-Si Producing
SunSpark USA/SolarMax Technology USA Riverside, CA 250 MW   OEM   c-Si Producing
Tesla USA Buffalo, NY ~1,000 MW       c-Si Unknown
Toledo Solar USA Perrysburg, OH 100 MW       CdTe Producing
Violet Power USA Moses Lake, WA   500 MW     c-Si Under Construction

2 U.S. closures: MiaSolé as well as Global Solar

The U.S. solar market bid farewell to 2 CIGS thin-film suppliers this year: MiaSolé (Santa Clara, California, 150 MW) as well as Global Solar (Tucson, Arizona, 50 MW). Although thin-film solar panels are not part of the tariff order, need for the specialized modules will likely never ever match crystalline silicon's-- generated domestically or otherwise. Hanergy, the Chinese parent business of MiaSolé and Global Solar, began laying off American workers in late 2019 while production entered into a "short-lived shutdown to decrease costs." Many employees were furloughed with 2020, and also PV Magazine reported that MiaSolé got fundings via the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that came about throughout COVID-19. It appears unlikely that either thin-film supplier will certainly reboot production.

2020's single enhancement: Toledo Solar

Toledo Solar has actually set up in the former Willard & Kelsey Solar Group structure in Perrysburg, Ohio, to produce CdTe panels for the residential as well as business solar markets.

Currently, Toledo Solar is operating on one change and must be up to 2 by January 2021. As soon as 3 shifts are worked with, the firm will certainly reach its 100-MW production ability.

Aaron Bates, chairman of Toledo Solar owner Atlas Venture Group, said the maker is already marketing panels directly to installers and has found a good particular niche in the non-utility market. This additionally implies it will not be taking on CdTe giant First Solar.

" We hold First Solar in a high regard. I'm an investor," Bates claimed. "We don't think about Toledo Solar to take on First Solar. That's one of the decisions we made extremely early. If we were mosting likely to check out entering into solar, we would only do it if there was a particular niche market we might service that would certainly not take on First Solar. They are utility-scale. Toledo Solar services the non-utility market in the United States."

First Solar did just recently reveal it would certainly start providing the neighborhood as well as business solar markets with panels via suppliers, but Toledo Solar particularly sees its panels making a home in residential rooftop tasks. The company's frameless panel (similar in dimension to First Solar's Series 4 module: 600 mm x 1,200 mm as well as 115 W) is cosmetically various than conventional crystalline-silicon modules. Thin-film solar panels have far better resistance to shielding as well as lower deterioration rates than crystalline silicon, so Toledo Solar could make a play for hard installations and in warmer climates.

Large things imminent for 2021: Violet Power

A brand-new solar firm has actually introduced a significant addition to U.S. manufacturing with its gigawatt-production plans. Violet Power is setting up in a 600,000-sq.-feet facility nearby from REC Silicon in Moses Lake, Washington, as well as will have 500 MW of crystalline silicon solar cell production ability by Q2 2021 with an additional 500 MW of complete panel manufacturing by the end of following year. The plan is to ultimately scale to 5 GW of manufacturing as well as 1,000 producing staff members. As soon as cells come off the line, Violet Power will certainly be the only solar cell producer in the United States, now that Panasonic has left the Buffalo, New York, facility it showed Tesla.

Violet Power's solar panels will certainly utilize interdigitated back get in touch with (IBC) modern technology accredited from ISC Konstanz in Germany together with a sturdy polyvinyl butyral (PVB) encapsulant. On top of that, the IBC cell design will be coupled with a light weight aluminum flex circuit established by SunFlex Solar out of Arizona.

"The published circuit board is a huge sheet of foil that is bound to the solar cell which allows for regarding 85% of the steel on the solar cell to be eliminated. Generally, those metal layers are expensive silver-based products," said Violet Power CEO Charlie Gay. "So, we can take a great deal of the price out of the back-contact solar cell by replacing light weight aluminum foil, which [additionally allows] the module to operate at a reduced temperature.

"The reduced temperature will indicate better energy shipment, and also it'll substantially expand the time of use in the field prior to people start to think about deactivating or recycling," he continued.

Violet Power panels are expected ahead with a 50-year production warranty.