June 24, 2024

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Heliene is first domestic silicon solar panel manufacturer to use American-made cells

Minnesota-based solar panel manufacturer Heliene announced today it will purchase silicon solar cells from Suniva under a $400 million, three-year contract. Suniva is expected to restart solar cell manufacturing at its Georgia factory within the next few months.

Heliene’s solar panel factory in Minnesota. Credit: Solar Power World

“Heliene is proud to embark on this historic partnership with Suniva at a time when the U.S. is poised to capture a greater share of the global solar market by bolstering domestic manufacturing and onshoring of supply,” said Martin Pochtaruk, CEO of Heliene. “Introducing Suniva’s U.S.-made cells into our manufacturing process will enable Heliene to expand its commitment to offering best-in-class modules that enable our customers to qualify for lucrative tax credits and incentives.”

Suniva announced last year it would restart its cell manufacturing operations in Norcross, Georgia, after the Biden Administration included manufacturing tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act. Suniva expects the factory to have 1 GW of annual manufacturing capacity.

Canada-headquartered Heliene currently operates an 800-MW solar panel assembly campus in Mountain Iron, Minnesota. The company has also stated plans for a second panel assembly facility in the Twin Cities area.

The two companies have received investments from Orion Infrastructure Capital (OIC) since incentives in the IRA have encouraged more domestic solar manufacturing. The domestic content bonus credit within the IRA provides an additional bonus credit to solar energy installers that use American-made products. In order for solar panels to most easily qualify as “American-made,” the Treasury Dept. said the panels must use cells made in the United States.

As of today, only First Solar cadmium-telluride thin-film solar panels made in Ohio, which use a unique vapor deposition process that technically qualifies as cell manufacturing, fully qualify for the domestic content bonus as-written. The Suniva solar cell factory will likely be the first silicon cell manufacturing operations to start in the United States this year, making Heliene solar panels the first silicon solar panels to reach the domestic content bonus standards using American-made cells.

“We are thrilled to partner with Heliene, who shares our vision for growing the United States’ solar PV supply chain,” said Cristiano Amoruso, CEO of Suniva. “This contract is a testament to the effectiveness of the Inflation Reduction Act and Treasury’s May 2023 domestic content guidance. We are proud to fulfill our long-standing promise to bring back cell manufacturing to the United States at our Norcross facility.”