SolarWorld to spend US$10 million on PERC cell/module expansion in Oregon

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SolarWorld has announced plans to invest over US$10 million in adding a new ‘flexible’ manufacturing line at its Hillsboro, Oregon facility with the creation of around 200 jobs. 

Mukesh Dulani, US president of SolarWorld said at a press conference that, “SolarWorld was growing again,” in a short but emotional speech. 

Dulani said that SolarWorld would expand module capacity from 390MW to 530MW with completion and ramp by the third quarter of 2015. Key to the expansion is the further investment in ramping PERC cell and module capacity, providing modules with around 280Wp performance. 

Around 25 jobs would be created in the first quarter of 2015, specifically for PERC cell production expansion of 100MW, according to Dulani. In the second quarter more jobs would be created for the initial start of the expanded module production. 

The US$10 million plus investment was said to bring SolarWorld’s cumulative investment at the Hillsboro plant to around US$630 million. 

However, Dulani noted that the latest investment would enable the line to be expanded to as much as 630MW. 

“It is no secret that the last several years have been tough for SolarWorld and for US solar manufacturers in general,” added Dulani. “However, 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. 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 company also noted that it expected approximately 540 additional upstream and downstream jobs to be created due to its own expansion. 

However, according to SolarWorld’s 2013 Annual Report, the Hillsboro plant had a nameplate wafer capacity of 250MW, solar cell of 500MW and a module capacity of 350MW. 

Therefore the key takeaway is the expansion of PERC cell/module capacity offering higher module performance, crucial to expanding residential sales in the US. 

In a later issued press release, SolarWorld claimed that its Hillsboro plant is already the largest producer of PERC cells worldwide, with 335MW of annual production capacity.  Expansion will add another 100MW of monocrystalline capacity, for a total of 435MW.

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