By Kelly Pickerel
Solar cell manufacturer Suniva, which has been inoperative since 2017, announced today it plans to upgrade and restart its factory in Norcross, Georgia. The first stage of the restart should create 240 jobs and improve the site’s annual manufacturing capacity to 1 GW, beginning in spring 2024. A second phase could expand the factory further to 2.5 GW, the company said.
Once considered the largest solar cell and panel manufacturer in the United States, Suniva operated factories in Georgia and Michigan. The company filed bankruptcy in 2017 after claiming it could not compete with cheap solar imports. Suniva shuttered its recently expanded Georgia site (which operated at nearly 450 MW of capacity). Soon after, Suniva and SolarWorld asked the federal government to impose Section 201 trade tariffs on foreign solar cells and panels. The petition was successful, and imported solar cells and panels are still under Section 201 tariffs today. SolarWorld was unable to recover and is no longer in business. Suniva has been dormant since, but now the company said new IRA manufacturing tax credits will allow it to restart cell manufacturing operations.
“Since 2007, Suniva has been a leader in solar cell technology development and manufacturing. The Inflation Reduction Act and its domestic content provisions, as issued, provide a strong foundation for continued solar cell technology development and manufacturing in the United States,” said Cristiano Amoruso, Suniva CEO and board member. “We look forward to engaging with our customers to satisfy their demand for a reliable source of U.S. made cells.”
Lion Point Capital has owned Suniva since the company exited bankruptcy in 2019. Earlier this year, Suniva secured a $110 million financing commitment from Orion Infrastructure Capital (OIC), the same investment firm backing a $150 million fund for Minnesota solar panel manufacturer Heliene. Suniva will use the OIC funds to purchase new manufacturing equipment.
“The solar cell is the essential component in solar energy generation. Today’s announcement is the first step in rebuilding solar cell manufacturing in the United States, which will bolster our country’s energy independence and security,” said Matt Card, president and COO of Suniva. “This next chapter in Suniva’s story builds upon those successes while contributing to the goal of a robust, self-sufficient solar supply chain for our country.