On March 13, Invenergy announced that it plans to collaborate with LONGi to build a PV module plant in the US. Invenergy will invest more than US$600 million through a new joint venture named Illuminate USA that will implement this project. Of the US$600 million, US$200 will be used to acquire the land for the plant site and build the plant building that spans an area of 1.1 million square feet. The remaining US$380 million will be used to pay for equipment and startup costs. The plant is expected to land in Pataskala, Ohio. This announcement was first picked up by other renewable energy news websites.
It is worth noting that Ohio currently hosts most of First Solar’s manufacturing facilities. First Solar sets itself apart from the majority of manufacturers for PV products by focusing on its own thin-film PV technology. Other manufacturers for thin-film PV products such as Toledo Solar also operate in the state.
Invenergy touts that once the module plant is up and running, it will be the largest hub for the production of c-Si PV modules in the US. Additionally, it will support 850 new jobs. Based on the current development schedule, the construction of the plant is set to begin this April, and the plant is expected to enter operation by the end of this year as well. The plant is designed to have an annually production capacity of 5GW, which is equivalent to almost 50% of the newly added utility-scale PV generation capacity in the US last year. This amount will also power nearly 1 million American homes.
Art Fletcher, Executive Vice President of Global Procurement at Invenergy, said that as a US-based company and a leading PV project developer and operator in the country, Invenergy recognizes the importance of having a strong domestic supply chain to meet the fast-growing demand for affordable solar energy.
Currently Illuminate USA working with labor resource websites JobsOhio and One Columbus to create programs for recruiting and training locals so that they will make up the workforce at the proposed module plant. The entire project will be formally unveiled after the related final agreement has been inked.
Based in China, LONGi is one of the major suppliers for c-Si PV products, including wafers, cells, and modules. The company currently has branch locations across Southeast Asia. This project represents the first step that the company is taking in establishing its business operations in the US. Perhaps, the project could also become a step in resolving the longstanding dispute between China and the US over the trading of PV products.