‘Greener’ solar wafer production coming to the United States

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NexWafe is a solar tech company we’ve had our eye on. The German company promotes the “greener” production of solar PV wafers via its EpiNex manufacturing solution that simplifies polysilicon production and reduces energy use.

“This results in drastically lowered production costs for n-type monocrystalline wafers used for the majority of high-performing solar modules,” we’ve written previously.

NexWafe’s first 250 MW commercial facility is under construction in Bitterfeld, Germany. Seeing the opportunities inherent in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the growing solar PV manufacturing base in the United States, NexWafe is establishing a U.S. subsidiary to evaluate the development of multi-gigawatt-scale solar wafer production. The initial target production volume is 6 GWs.

Greener or not, this is welcome news because the U.S. just needs more domestic solar wafer production, period. As part of this expansion, NexWafe appointed solar industry veteran Jonathan Pickering as Vice President of Business Development for North America to spearhead U.S. operations. Pickering was previously President of JA Solar Americas, and a former Vice President at Applied Materials. His experience spans the solar value chain from solar wafer and solar cell processing equipment to solar module manufacturing and commercial solar project development.

“Silicon wafers are critical materials for the energy transition, and Jonathan’s leadership will be key as we embark on establishing gigawatt-scale wafer manufacturing in the U.S.,” said Davor Sutija, CEO, NexWafe. “His extensive experience and proven expertise in solar technology complement the strength of our established leadership team.”

NexWafe’s U.S. expansion is a strategic move to reduce vulnerabilities in the solar-wafer supply chain, which remains subject to China’s market dominance and potential geopolitical disruption. The company is actively working on securing strategic partnerships, assessing potential manufacturing locations and the associated regional incentives, and securing offtake agreements for domestic wafer supply.

“Multiple top-tier solar companies have committed to advanced PV cell and module manufacturing at a multi-gigawatt scale across the U.S. But now we see a significant bottleneck in the supply chain for a domestic source of silicon wafers,” said Jonathan Pickering, VP of Business Development, North America, NexWafe. “Our breakthrough EpiNex direct ‘gas-to-wafer’ manufacturing process targets this exact opportunity. We are developing a gigawatt-scale facility to manufacture high-performance. American-made, thin silicon wafers to serve our U.S. customers, and we can do so while achieving a 60 percent reduction in the carbon footprint compared to today’s technology.”

Along with other solar supply chain manufacturers, NexWafe will work with the Administration to leverage IRA incentives to realize the company’s vision of gigawatt-scale wafer manufacturing in North America.

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