US: Stion to ramp production ahead of tariffs on Chinese modules


With manufacturing in Mississippi and and R&D and offices in Silicon Valley, thin film manufacturer Stion can certainly boast of an All American product. In light of this, it has taken the decision to ramp its manufacturing operations in the second half of this year and through 2015.

In a statement released today, Stion announced that it would ramp the production of its Elevation Series CIGS modules on the back of, "demand precipitated by the news of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s preliminary tariffs on Chinese solar modules shipped to the U.S."

Stion said that it expects module prices for Chinese producers to increase by an average of 27%, on the back of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s ruling last week to apply countervailing duties on the Chinese suppliers.

While some industry players in the U.S. have been strident in their criticism of the move, an increase as expected by Stion would certainly help the producer compete in its domestic market.

“We understand that this preliminary tariff will put a strain on the U.S. solar market as current major Chinese solar equipment supplier pricing increases from 18 to 35%," said Stion President and Chief Executive Officer Chet Farris in today’s statement. “Stion is committed to serving the U.S. market with the highest quality U.S. designed and U.S. manufactured solar technologies."

Stion has not released what its capacity will be ramped to by 2015, although its Mississippi fab is sized for 400 MW to 500 MW of tooling. pv magazine understands the modules from Stion’s existing production lines are around the 13% to 13.5% conversion efficiency range.

The U.S. firm is pursuing a CIGS tandem junction technology, in parralel to its current module production. In February of this year it announced that it had produced 23.3% conversion efficiency, presumably on a very small cell. It also has achieved an efficiency of 20% on a 20cm by 20cm cell. The high efficiency monolithic deposition process has be named Simply Better Tandem Technology by the firm.

Stion’s decision to ramp comes at a time when Taiwanese CIGS producer TSMC is also making similar moves. TSMC produces modules from its Taiching operations using technology licensed from Stion.