Solar technology startup Violet Power has chosen Moses Lake, Washington, as the location of its first manufacturing plant. The company plans to manufacture silicon solar cells and panels in the United States. Production should begin in Q2 2021, with full manufacturing capacity of 500 MW of solar cells and separately 500 MW of solar panels reached by the end of 2021.
Violet Power is led by president and founder Desari Strader (previously with SolarWorld) and CEO Charlie Gay (previously with the DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office until November 2019). The company expects to create 500 jobs immediately before ramping to 1,000 jobs once the plant is at its full manufacturing capacity.
Violet Power solar panels will have a 50-year warranty — the longest in the solar industry.
“There are currently no vertically-integrated U.S. PV panel manufacturers to meet the growing global demand for solar power,” Gay said. “This lack of manufacturing capability within the United States results in billions of dollars in lost opportunity including jobs, wages, and revenue for American workers and government at the local, state, and federal level. In addition, there are serious concerns over supply chain self-reliance and electric grid security, which can be best addressed with control of the entire value chain. Violet Power’s manufacturing model addresses all of these concerns, and more.”
Greentech Media is reporting that Violet Power will use technology developed by SunFlex Solar, an Arizona-based startup that won funding from DOE’s American-Made Solar Prize. The group uses aluminum foil in place of silver and copper in interdigitated back-contact (IBC) solar cells. Replacing the precious metals with aluminum allows the IBC panels to be cheaper than traditional processes.
The Violet Power facility will be across the street from the shuttered REC Silicon polysilicon plant. REC shut the plant down after ongoing trade disputes between China and the United States prevented REC from selling its polysilicon into foreign markets. There are no plans as of yet to restart the plant, but Violet Power’s proximity and need for silicon could change things.