North American solar panel assembler Heliene has announced a $21 million investment into a new manufacturing facility in Mountain Iron, Minnesota, located adjacent to its existing facility at the former Silicon Energy factory. Once completed in June 2022, Heliene’s Mountain Iron campus will expand to 95,000 sq. ft with 550 MW of total production capacity.
Add in the company’s recent announcement of a 100-MW silicon solar panel facility at the former SolarTech Universal factory in Riviera Beach, Florida, and its 250-MW factory in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, and Heliene’s total North American manufacturing capacity will sit at 900 MW.
The Mountain Iron expansion will lead to 60 new jobs. Production will focus on manufacturing modules using imported M6, M10 and M12 (210-mm) mono-PERC cells.
“Amid consistently strong solar demand and trade volatility, our customers seek peace of mind that they are receiving the highest quality, competitively priced solar modules exactly when and where they need them,” said Martin Pochtaruk, Heliene CEO. “The investment in this ultra-efficient new manufacturing line will significantly increase the rate of American-made module delivery 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 the 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 boost the state’s electrification and climate change abatement efforts. St. Louis County, where the Mountain Iron plant is located, additionally awarded Heliene a $1 million grant.
Once at its full 550-MW capacity, Heliene’s Minnesota factory will be tied for the second largest silicon solar panel manufacturing facility in the United States, behind only Q CELLS’s 1,700-MW facility in Georgia. According to Solar Power World records, the co-second-place U.S. silicon manufacturing facility is LG’s 550-MW plant in Alabama. This is of course assuming that Tesla’s “gigafactory” in Buffalo, New York, is not producing solar panels.