With manufacturing credit as soon as once more included in a congressional reconciliation invoice, new photo voltaic growth plans could possibly be again on the desk in america. The present draft of the Inflation Discount Act (IRA) of 2022 consists of $370 billion in power and local weather spending, with manufacturing credit as introduced within the former Photo voltaic Power Manufacturing for America (SEMA) Act nonetheless intact: solar-grade polysilicon ($3/kg), PV wafers ($12/m2), thin-film and silicon PV cells (4¢/WDC), thin-film and silicon PV modules (7¢/WDC).
All the business can be buoyed if credit are permitted, however no corporations extra so than Hanwha and REC Silicon. Hanwha, which is rising its Qcells photo voltaic panel campus by 1.4 GW even with out assure of credit, is the biggest shareholder in REC Silicon and beforehand acknowledged the polysilicon manufacturing facility in Moses Lake, Washington, which has been closed for years, will reopen by This autumn 2023. Hanwha has pledged to safe North American manufacturing capabilities throughout the total photo voltaic provide chain — the corporate has signed a Canadian glass producer for its Qcells modules and REC Silicon will get silicon steel provide from Ferroglobe crops in america.
What’s nonetheless lacking, although, is home photo voltaic silicon ingots, wafers and cells. There are at present no North American suppliers of the essential silicon product steps between uncooked materials and the ultimate photo voltaic panel — no less than not but.
Photo voltaic Energy World spoke with Chuck Sutton, VP of FBR gross sales at REC Silicon, after discovering allowing plans submitted to the Moses Lake Metropolis Council for an “ingot and wafer course of” facility. Sutton couldn’t touch upon something particular however did say photo voltaic manufacturing credit would decide the corporate’s future plans.
“We’re buying land round us and exploring alternatives. It’s a traditional course of enterprise,” he stated.
In November 2021, earlier than any official Hanwha involvement with the corporate, REC Silicon submitted “Challenge Riser” to the Moses Lake Metropolis Council. Challenge Riser detailed plans to rezone close by land parcels from agricultural to industrial for the aim of constructing an ingot and wafer manufacturing website. The brand new development can be an enlargement of REC Silicon however operated by a sister firm. Town council permitted the land use request of 162 acres in March 2022.
REC did personal the land parcels earlier than, however offered them for farming when the polysilicon market flipped in favor of cheaper Chinese language manufacturing.
“We by no means thought we’d do something extra round right here, so over time we ended up promoting some land off,” Sutton stated. “Now we see another alternatives coming round, so we thought we must always purchase it again simply to have it.”
When the SEMA Act was first introduced in June 2021, Sutton stated “in all probability half a dozen” totally different corporations stated they needed to construct an ingot plant within the space to make use of Washington’s plentiful hydropower electrical energy and be close to REC’s polysilicon operations. Realizing how lengthy land acquisition can take, REC determined to be proactive whereas SEMA credit had been debated.
If the IRA is handed with photo voltaic manufacturing credit included, ingot and wafer processing might doubtlessly begin in Moses Lake. Washington State provides tax breaks to photo voltaic product producers, and the governor has allotted $10 million for electrical infrastructure investment in REC’s space. REC acknowledged in allowing paperwork that growth of Challenge Riser might lead to as much as 2,500 jobs and $2 billion in development prices.
At present although, REC Silicon is concentrated on restarting the polysilicon manufacturing operations on the Moses Lake plant. New engineering jobs have been posted, and Sutton stated the group will rent 150 folks over the subsequent a number of months to remain on observe for This autumn 2023 manufacturing. The entire website’s reactors should be up to date — the manufacturing facility previously produced multicrystalline silicon, and now the business has moved to monocrystalline.
“All the pieces is mono now and shifting towards n-type, so increased purity is the place it’s essential to be,” Sutton stated. “Over the subsequent yr, we’re going to improve all our reactors right here in Moses Lake to deal with that new course of.”
REC Silicon is taking issues at some point at a time — however the future might maintain greater plans.
“Our largest shareholder (Hanwha) has publicly stated they’re increasing in Georgia and needs to do stuff within the States. If we need to be within the combine, we’ve to have land accessible,” Sutton stated. “We need to keep low-carbon, we need to do as a lot as we are able to in North America. Hopefully it continues to work out, and we’ll proceed exploring all these alternatives right here.”