Canadian solar company Mitrex intends to open a 2.5-GW solar panel factory in the United States, with a final location choice announced soon. The company, which currently operates a 500-MW plant in Toronto, Ontario, that makes colored solar panels, BIPV cladding and traditional solar panels, expects the U.S. location to begin production in Q1 2024.
Mitrex CEO Danial Hadizadeh told Solar Power World that the company is currently finalizing a location, and equipment has been ordered. Mitrex previously stated that the U.S. factory should support 250 new jobs, and the site will make a mix of building-integrated PV products and traditional solar panels.
“Our specialty is in building envelope and building cladding, but having standard panels as well as colored panels puts us in better distribution channels and increases our market reach,” Hadizadeh said.
The company started in 2003 as Global Canadian Advanced Technologies (GCAT) Group, focusing on the efficient manufacturing of construction material. A BIPV product was developed and eventually Mitrex was spun out to focus on solar construction. The Ontario plant began production in 2021, and Mitrex has a U.S. distribution center just across Lake Ontario in Rochester, New York. The Rochester site is in the final running for Mitrex’s U.S. manufacturing hub.
The goal is to have a 2.5-GW annual capacity site, with the bulk being dedicated to traditional solar panels at first.
“How we utilize it really depends on market conditions,” Hadizadeh said. “We hope we can do more on BIPV, but we will focus our colored panels and roof panels until the market for BIPV will be large enough to capture the whole capacity.”
Mitrex makes its own glass, which allows the company to control the manufacturing of its specialized colored solar panels. That vertical integration would be adopted in the U.S. plant as well.
The company features a number of BIPV products on its website — solar façades, glass, railings, siding and noise barriers — along with traditional 390- to 440-W solar panels with white or black backsheets in half- or full-cell designs. Mitrex is constantly playing in R&D, like when it announced a double-solar-panel back in 2021.
“We have a lot of R&D initiatives, and we do have a lot of interesting product that we’re launching,” Hadizadeh said. “Not all of them end up being a mass-produced product. Some just reach the R&D status, but it’s about pushing the envelope and making sure we are looking at it from a different angle.”
Mitrex is currently developing new solar panel designs and will have a new product announcement this summer. Right now, Mitrex is focusing on its U.S. manufacturing plans.
“Who doesn’t want to do business in the U.S.? It’s the bigger market, and we are right at the border,” Hadizadeh said. “Our plan has always been to have multiple plants in the U.S. because of the size of the market. What we did in Canada, even though it’s large, we still call it our proof of concept. That’s why the next plant is so much bigger.”