Hanwha 1.7 GW panel factory is the second US fab to come online this week

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From pv magazine USA.

Just a few weeks ago, we were wondering when the 3.8 GW of solar factories announced in the United States last winter and spring were going to come online. Turns out, we didn’t need to wait long.

Only two days after Jinko Solar held an opening ceremony for its 400 MW panel factory in Jacksonville, Florida, Hanwha Q Cells has announced it has brought its own massive panel fab – in Dalton, Georgia  – online. When fully ramped, the factory will have the capacity to put out 1.7 GW of solar panels annually, and it has already begun shipping modules.

As with the Jinko factory, that does not mean the Hanwha facility is running at full capacity yet. The South Korean manufacturer has released few details about the unit, but did state it started production a month ago and has already sent out its first shipments.

Half-cut mono

Hanwha Q Cells is making its Q.Peak Duo L-G5 modules (data sheet pdf) at the factory, which comprise 144 half-cut mono-PERC cells, giving them the equivalent format of a traditional 72-cell module.

Dedicating such a large factory to half-cut modules is a major validation for the technology. Products using half-cut cells have been manufactured by REC in Singapore for years but Hanwha is one of the first of its rivals to adopt the technology on a mass scale.

The Hanwha cells also feature six busbars, further suggesting improved evacuation of electricity from the cell surface. That and the use of passivated emitter and rear cell (PERC) technology give the module a high, 380-395 W rating, at module efficiencies ranging from 18.9-19.6%. (Editor’s note: you can read more about the Q.ANTUM technology used in these cells in our previous coverage.)

The modules coming out of Dalton will be supplying one of the largest solar projects in the South of the U.S. – the 102.5 MWac Early County plant being developed by Silicon Ranch, one of several to supply power to a new Facebook data center in Newton, Georgia.

Four factories

The Hanwha fab is the second large factory to come online of the four planned in the wake of President Trump’s Section 201 solar tariffs and Republican-driven tax reform. As for the other two, the contractor who built LG’s 500 MW PV module factory in Huntsville, Alabama has stated construction is complete but it is unclear when tools will be installed and the facility activated.

First Solar is building a 1.2 GW module factory in Ohio to make its large-format Series 6 modules, based on cadmium telluride thin film technology. The company says that factory will be producing modules by the end of the year.

The four facilities will increase the U.S.’ aggregate PV module production capacity to around 5 GW, representing around half the nation’s current demand for solar.

Hanwha Q Cells is one of 18 companies active in the U.S. whose factories – under construction or online – are featured in pv magazine USA’s PV module maker directory.