Heliene to add 1.5GW/1GW of TOPCon cell & module production in Minnesota

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Heliene CEO Martin Pochtaruk at a groundbreaking ceremony for the company’s first Minnesota plant in 2021. Image: Heliene.

Canadian solar manufacturer Heliene has announced plans to build around 1GW of solar module assembly and 1.5GW of solar cell production capacity in the US.

First reported by Reuters, the announcement said that Heliene will be targeting another location in Minnesota, in addition to its existing 800MW module production facility in the state. The company said that it intends to produce modules at the new facility in 2024, with cell production to commence the following year.

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The factory will represent around US$145 million in investment from Heliene, following securing a US$150 million credit facility from New York investment fund Orion Infrastructure Capital.

The precise location of the facility is yet to be determined.

CEO of Heliene Martin Pochtaruk told PV Tech that the cell manufacturing facility will produce n-type Tunnel Oxide Passivated Contact (TOPCon) cells. The technology is gaining traction in the industry, with large players like Trina and JA Solar both having explained their n-type transition plans to PV Tech at the SNEC and Intersolar industry expos.

Pochtaruk also said that, with the inauguration of its cell production facility, Heliene’s customers would be well-poised to take advantage of the 10% domestic content adder included under the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) in the government’s landmark Inflation Reduction Act.

Last week, PV Tech Premium published a piece looking into the challenging guidance released for the domestic content adder, speaking with Heliene and US developer Silicon Ranch. As it stands, the definition of a US-made product would require manufacturers to disclose the entire cost stack for their systems in order for their customers to qualify for the 10% bonus. Cell production is also key to reaching the 40% cost-based threshold set out in the guidance, as they generally account for around half of the cost of a solar module.

The company is already sourcing its aluminium framing in the US, which sets it apart from many other producers, and told PV Tech Premium that it is happy to disclose its costs and open up the domestic content bonus for its customers.

Heliene joins the ranks of fellow manufacturers Enel 3Sun and Hanwha Qcells who have announced US cell capacity plans. Enel is looking to be producing 3GW of heterojunction technology (HJT) cells in Oklahoma by 2025, whilst Qcells’ integrated manufacturing plan for Georgia includes plans for 3.3GW of cells.

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