It appears the bad days for solar manufacturing in the U.S. are on the wane. SolarCity recently announced its GigaFactory in New York, where it will produce photovoltaic modules based on Silevo’s technology. Meanwhile San Antonio’s Mission Solar Energy started producing PV modules last month and now SolarWorld, the stalwart PV manufacturer with a long history of manufacturing in Oregon, is expanding production to 530 megawatts and hiring 200 people in 2015.
SolarWorld, which made the announcement Oct. 30, is making a dramatic resurgence. The company had led the charge in the U.S. to push for tariffs against Chinese PV manufacturers and their important practices to the U.S. The company, a subsidiary of Germany’s SolarWorld, and its partners successfully argued that Chinese PV cells and modules should be assessed fees by the Securities and Exchange Commission for Chinese PV manufacturers’ trade practices, which include artificially lowering the price of products to gain market share.
“I am thrilled that SolarWorld’s new production line is adding 200 good-paying, high-skill manufacturing jobs to Oregon’s economy,” said U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) “These are jobs worth fighting for, which is why I have worked side by side with SolarWorld to ensure our trade agreements with China are actually enforced. The result of our teamwork is that an anchor of Oregon’s manufacturing base is once again growing.”
“It is no secret that the last several years have been tough for SolarWorld and for U.S. solar manufacturers in general,” SolarWorld U.S. President Mukesh Dulani said.
Now it appears the manufacturer is again successfully selling its U.S.-made PV products as global demand starts outpacing production capabilities across the world. The company announced that it will increase production capacity by 380 megawatts to 530 MWs of PV annually. In addition the company plans to further up production to 630 MWs in the near future. To handle the additional production capacity SolarWorld plans to hire about 200 full-time positions, the company said.
“Thanks to a variety of factors, including our trade cases against China, difficult but necessary financial controls and a fantastic group of employees, we have turned the corner,” Dulani said. “Today’s announcement shows that SolarWorld is not only here to stay, but it also is ready to extend our leadership in the American solar manufacturing industry.”
The announcement follows a recently awarded $4 million research grant from the Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative to further the company’s research on silicon mono-crystallization technology to help increase the efficiency of PV cells. The results of that research will be public. SolarWorld said it already spent $4 million on the research itself and it plans to spend $4 million more in addition to the funding from the energy department. The company is also increasing production of its line of PERC (passivated emitter rear contact) photovoltaic cells from 335 MWs to 435 MWs to reach the above mentioned capacity expansions.Tweet