CubicPV halts plans for US solar silicon wafer factory


From pv magazine USA 

Solar manufacturer CubicPV has revealed that it will scrap its plan to develop a 10 GW silicon wafer factory in the United States. The company will instead focus on producing tandem solar modules.

CubicPV’s board of directors cited changing market dynamics, including “a dramatic collapse in wafer prices and a surge in construction costs,” as the reason for aborting the plan.

As part of restructuring plans, the company reduced its workforce and eliminated positions tied to the US factory effort. The company said it would support the affected workers by providing severance packages and extended health benefits.

Following a 16-year tenure as CubicPV’s chief executive officer, Frank van Mierlo, has decided to step down. Tim McCaffery, global investment director of SCG, will assume chief executive officer responsibilities, guiding the company through the transition.

“Together with our board, we’ve concluded that the one thing that could truly make a difference in humanity’s fight against climate change and the US ability to realize a solar manufacturing renaissance is to invent a better panel,” said van Mierlo.

CubicPV will now focus on tandem module development. The company seeks to address stability, reproducibility and efficiency of silicon-perovskite tandems and promises to solve the durability challenge that has slowed the commercialization of perovskite material use in solar panels.

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“Cubic’s engineering acumen and robust IP portfolio create a solid foundation for growth. SCG strongly believes that the company’s tandem technology could be a solar breakthrough, transforming the energy landscape,” said McCaffery. 

In the summer of 2023, the company secured $103 million in equity financing to support the now-scrapped wafer factory. 

In December 2023, CubicPV and South Korean silicon producer OCI announced an eight-year supply agreement in which Cubic becomes OCIM’s first US customer for its low-carbon, US-compliant silicon.

The contract was valued at approximately $1 billion, establishes a commitment for an annual supply volume by OCI, providing Cubic with the polysilicon it needs in order to begin manufacturing at its US plant. Under the terms of the agreement, OCI would begin to provide silicon in 2025 from its manufacturing facility.

In related news, Norway-based REC Silicon has announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, REC Advanced Silicon Materials LLC, is shutting down polysilicon production capacity at its facility in Butte, Montana. The plant employed about 300 people and was one of the top private employers in the region.

The manufacturer said the shutdown of the business in Butte is “primarily necessary due to the regional structural imbalance in supply and demand for electricity.” It is also said to be part of its strategy to ensure long-term profitable operations.

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