Suniva adds 200 MW module capacity

The rebound in U.S. solar manufacturing appears to be continuing, with the latest announcement by Suniva that it will add 200 MW of manufacturing capacity, in a new facility located in a former industrial center in Saginaw County. The new Suniva facility in Saginaw County, which is in the Flint/Tri-Cities region of Michigan, will create 350 jobs in a region that has struggled in the wake of the U.S. manufacturing decline, compounded by the global financial crisis.

“Suniva’s decision to invest, expand and ultimately to add hundreds of new manufacturing jobs in Saginaw is great news for the community and our state,” said Michael A. Finney, President and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Last year Suniva signaled that is was receiving “unprecedented sales” demand to for its modules and that it was expanding its manufacturing in the state of Georgia. This initial production facility has three lines with a capacity of around 170 MW.

While a total capacity, once the Michigan fab is fully ramped, of around 370 MW, will mean that the U.S. producer remains small by global standards, Suniva claims to employ the highest percentage of American workers than any tier-1 solar manufacturer. Leading U.S. suppliers SunPower and First Solar both rely heavily of production bases in Southeast Asia.

“The U.S. market has spoken and has clearly stated that it values a company that was born in the USA, is owned in the USA, and builds high-quality products here. We are honored by that validation, and pleased that our success is allowing us to give back by the creation of additional U.S. jobs”, said John Baumstark, chairman and CEO of Suniva – in a statement announcing the new facility.

Suniva producers both mono and polycrystalline cells and modules. Its Optimus mono module is rated at 280W, in a 60-cell module, and 330W, in a 72-cell format. Suniva reports that cells with an average conversion efficiency of 19% are being produced on its existing lines.

The manufacturer hasn’t explicitly indicated what role the ongoing U.S./Sino PV trade case has played in its decision to construct the new facility, however in a statement in 2013 it said that it was producing “Buy America Act compliant modules.”