Convalt Energy announced last year that it was setting up a solar panel assembly facility in upstate New York that would use the old manufacturing lines from the dismantled SolarWorld facility in Oregon. That vintage solar manufacturing equipment will close out 2022 still sitting in storage, but things are progressing for Convalt Energy, and CEO Hari Achuthan now says panel production should begin at the Watertown, New York, facility in July 2023.
The company is so confident in the future of U.S. solar manufacturing that it also has plans for a 4-GW ingot, wafer and solar cell manufacturing site nearby. Achuthan told Solar Power World that this was the original business path Convalt established in 2020, but the federal support in the Inflation Reduction Act validates the company’s plans at an especially opportune moment.
“We made a decision in 2020 to focus on the United States,” he said. “There are a number of larger institutions that want to see ingots and wafers in the United States, to not have them subject to tariffs. We sensed it two years ago, and we felt we would find a way to get it done.”
Convalt recently entered into a business arrangement with investment group GigInternational1 that would allow Convalt access to more capital to get its manufacturing plans off the ground. If everything goes well, Achuthan expects Convalt to be publicly listed by mid-2023. He also expects the ingot/wafer/cell factory to be a $615 million investment, and Convalt wants to be prepared to raise the capital to start construction.
“It is aspirational to start ingot, wafer and cell manufacturing, but we’re not talking about sending ships to the moon. This can be done,” Achuthan said. “We have assembled the right team now. We’re moving along the right path. It’s just timing now on getting it done.”
In the meantime, the solar panel facility should have a 900-MW annual production capacity with room to grow to 1.2 GW. Convalt acts as a solar project developer as well, so 400 MW of its annual production will likely go to in-house developed projects. The company is currently working on module supply agreements with other U.S. developers for the rest of its capacity.
Convalt Energy has three lines of solar panels planned: Tango residential series, Bluto commercial series and Tembo bifacial utility-scale series.