Construction begins on 71 MW Argentinean PV fab

PV manufacturing in Latin America is continuing to move forward, with the latest news being the symbolic laying of the foundation stone at Argentina’s latest facility. The first PV products, from ingots, through to wafers, cells and modules, are set to begin rolling off production lines in October 15.

Local government officials attended the event, including San Juan Governor José Luis Gioja Argetina’s minister for planning and public investment Julio De Vido. In a speech at the event, De Vido said that both EPSE and Schmid have the support of the national government in the project.

Andreas Kielwein, vice president at Schmid Group, thanked the provincial government for "the confidence being allowed to be part of this future-oriented project that has such a great importance for Argentina,” at the event. Schmid, EPSE and Universidad Nacional de San Juan will form a research partnership to support the manufacturing endeavor.

Solar in the San Juan province is well established. San Juan is in the west of Argentina and borders Chile. Solar power predominately supplies gold and copper mining operations in the area. The local agricultural sector is planned to consume some of the production from the new manufacturing facility, and pv magazine understands that the San Juan government is considering loans to support this.

The EPSE fab will employ some of Schmid’s latest production technology, including its TinPad sytem, for replacing back contact silver, with low cost tin. The latest generation wafer cleaning technology will also be rolled out at the San Juan facility.

The new factory will be one of the first wafer and ingot production operations in Latin America, although Solartec has bough second-hand tooling to diversify its operations in Mexico in the upstream direction. The EPSE fab will be third PV production facility in Argentina, with Solartec operating one and a 12 MW fab in the San Luis region that was opened in May of this year.

The San Juan EPSE fab will be kitted out with €100 million ($134 million) in tooling from Schmid, with deliveries set to begin in 2015.

Additional reporting by Blanca Diaz Lopez.

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