CubicPV Blames Collapsing Prices To Abandon 10GW Solar Wafer Plant In US

Highlights :

  • Coming soon after the announcement by Meyer Burger to shutter a plant in Germany, the clamor for more protection from Chinese imports looks set to grow in these markets.
  • REC Silicon, which manufacturers polysilicon at a facility is also shutting down one facility citing high power costs.
CubicPV Blames Collapsing Prices To Abandon 10GW Solar Wafer Plant In US

US solar cell and module manufacturer CubicPV has abandoned its plans for a 10GW solar wafer manufacturing facility in the US and is “restructuring” its business to focus on its tandem technology module development. Plans for the 10 GW facility to manufacture wafers using CubivPVs  core silicon and perovskite technologies to provide semiconductor combination for high-efficiency tandem modules were announced in December 2022. Interestingly, CubivPV also has entered into a multi year agreement with India’s Waaree Energies to supply 1GW of silicon cells each year during 2023

The company has also announced that its CEO Frank Van Mierlo has stepped down.

In the same week, Polysilicon manufacturer REC Silicon has  also announced plans to shut down its operations at its Butte facility in Montana, US.The firm has blamed the shutdown on increased electricity costs in the region both in the short and mid-term. Production will continue for six to nine months, in order to fulfil ongoing orders to customers.

Polysilicon production however will continue at its new Moses Lake facility in Washington state, where production started only in the fourth quarter of 2023.

CubicPV’s statement has  blamed market dynamics including a “dramatic collapse in wafer prices and a surge in construction costs” for its decision to abandon a domestic manufacturing base.  The planned facility had been set up based on incentives offered under the IRA, indicating just how tough the pricing environment has become.

Over the course of 2023 the company received a US$103 million equity financing deal to support the factory, announced an engineering partner and, most recently, inked a US$1 billion polysilicon supply deal with South Korean-owned producer OCIM.

The company will now focus its business on developing and commercialising perovskite solar products.

CobivPV, as it focuses energies on its core module cell and business is backed by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Southeast Asian conglomerate SCG.

Coming soon after the announcement by Switzerland based Meyer Burger about plans to close one of its key plants in Germany, CubicPV’s decision is bound to raise the pitch on the sustainability of the solar supply chains being built in Europe, and now, the US. An issue with the IRA has been said to be the high focus on module manufacturing, leaving firms dependent on China for key inputs, thus negating the premise of the whole push into shifting solar manufacturing to the US.

Conspiracy theorists will probably see a concerted Chinese plan to ensure manufacturing elsewhere is simply unviable on commercial terms by dropping prices ‘temporarily’ to unsustainable levels. Either way, China’s massive capacity expansions are achieving that purpose partly, as they dissuade more and more firms in Europe and the US from venturing forth into manufacturing without long term assurances of protection.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International