Violet Energy, an Oregon-based photo voltaic startup helmed by the just lately retired director of the Division of Vitality’s photo voltaic workplace, plans to construct a completely built-in manufacturing plant in Washington State.
After ramping via 2021, the Violet manufacturing unit shall be able to roll out between 300 and 500 megawatts of photo voltaic cells per yr. Over time, the corporate plans so as to add modules after which wafers, making it the one U.S. photo voltaic plant producing all of these components of the provision chain.
“As time goes by, we might prolong each downstream in addition to upstream beginning with cells and dealing from there,” stated Charlie Homosexual, Violet’s CEO, referring to the potential to incorporate wafer and ingot manufacturing.
Homosexual served as director of DOE’s Photo voltaic Vitality Applied sciences Workplace from 2016 to November 2019. The corporate’s president and founder, Desari Strader, beforehand led authorities relations and technique at SolarWorld, a panel producer and co-petitioner within the Part 201 commerce case.
That management helps illuminate Violet’s option to find manufacturing within the U.S. “[COVID-19] has bolstered the necessity for being self-reliant,” stated Homosexual.
The corporate will incorporate expertise developed by SunFlex Photo voltaic, a group out of Arizona State College that in late August received DOE’s “American-Made Photo voltaic Prize.”
Neighbors with REC Silicon
The emphasis on native manufacturing could have contributed to Violet Energy’s resolution to web site its plant in Moses Lake, Washington, the place the startup might be able to assist one other a part of the photo voltaic provide chain: Violet’s manufacturing unit shall be positioned throughout the road from REC Silicon’s shuttered polysilicon plant.
Though REC Silicon’s manufacturing unit stays closed and the 2 corporations haven’t established a proper relationship, Violet might signify a brand new supply of demand for REC’s polysilicon within the U.S. because it builds to 1 gigawatt of wafer, cell and module capability. In time, Homosexual stated Violet plans to increase to five gigawatts of manufacturing capability.
“As we scale in direction of that dimension, our requirement for polysilicon must be a very good match for what REC Silicon would be capable to do of their Moses Lake web site,” Homosexual instructed Greentech Media. “They’re, after all, their very own firm and might suppose for themselves, however we’d like to assist the method by being a very good buyer.”
REC didn’t reply to a request for remark. And for now, Violet is working with a European accomplice for its ingot and wafer provide. Violet says it has already lined up prospects for its merchandise in Europe and the U.S.
Violet has promised an eventual 1,000 jobs and a brand new milestone for the U.S. photo voltaic provide chain. However constructing out a photo voltaic manufacturing hub within the U.S., and notably one that’s vertically built-in, is not any straightforward activity. Low-cost competitors from China and Southeast Asia means native corporations typically depend on imported panels, regardless of tariffs.
With Panasonic slated to go away Tesla’s Buffalo Gigafactory this month, Violet would change into the nation’s solely large-scale, working cell producer.
Bipartisan assist for native PV manufacturing
Each President Donald trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden need to increase home photo voltaic manufacturing.
Homosexual joined the Division of Vitality in August 2016, only a few months earlier than the Obama administration handed management over to Trump.
“The significance of home manufacturing is one thing that both the Trump administration or a possible Biden administration would welcome,” stated Homosexual. “Everyone acknowledges the significance of turning into extra self-reliant.”
Violet Energy’s launch already received plaudits from one former presidential contender, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who earlier than exiting the 2020 Democratic main race was extensively thought to be the candidate with essentially the most aggressive coverage proposals on local weather change and clear vitality.
“I’m happy they’re dedicated to supporting the continued improvement of a whole photo voltaic manufacturing provide chain,” Inslee stated in an emailed assertion on the Violet announcement.