North American solar panel assembler Heliene has announced a $21 million investment in a new manufacturing facility in Mountain Iron, Minnesota, adjacent to the existing facility at the former Silicon Energy plant. Once completed in June 2022, Heliene’s Mountain Iron campus will expand to 95,000 square feet with a total generating capacity of 550 MW.
Add to that the company’s recent announcement of a 100 MW silicon solar panel facility at the former SolarTech Universal plant in Riviera Beach, Florida, and the 250 MW plant in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada and Heliene’s total North American production capacity will be 900 MW.
The Mountain Iron expansion will create 60 new jobs. Production will focus on the production of modules with imported M6, M10 and M12 (210mm) mono-PERC cells.
“Amid consistently strong solar demand and trading volatility, our customers seek peace of mind that they are receiving the highest quality, competitively priced solar panels exactly when and where they need them,” said Martin Pochtaruk, CEO of Heliene. “The investment in this ultra-efficient new production line will significantly increase the supply of US-made modules while eliminating costly supply chain risks for customers.”
The Minnesota Department of Employee and Economic Development and Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation each provided a $2.75 million loan to Mountain Iron’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) to support Heliene’s expansion. Heliene also received a $5.5 million grant from the state of Minnesota’s Renewable Development Account, which funds projects that drive the state’s electrification and combating climate change. In addition, St. Louis County, where the Mountain Iron plant is located, awarded Heliene a $1 million grant.
Once at full capacity of 550 MW, Heliene’s Minnesota plant will be assigned to the second largest silicon solar panel manufacturing facility in the United States, behind Q CELLS’ 1,700 MW facility in Georgia. According to Solar energy world records, the runner-up US silicon plant is LG’s 550 MW plant in Alabama. This, of course, assumes that Tesla’s “giga factory” in Buffalo, New York, does not produce solar panels.
See a list of solar panel manufacturers in the US here.