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Sault solar panel manufacturer expands U.S. facility

Heliene making $21-million investment to increase capacity

Solar panel manufacturer Heliene, which is headquartered in Sault Ste. Marie, has announced a $21-million expansion of its Minnesota facility.

Construction is expected to get underway this month on a brand-new building in Iron Mountain, Minn., which will increase the company’s manufacturing capacity to 900 megawatts. Production is expected to begin in 2022.

“Amid consistently strong solar demand and trade volatility, our customers seek peace of mind that they are receiving the highest quality, competitively priced solar modules exactly when and where they need them,” Heliene’s CEO, Martin Pochtaruk, said in a Sept. 9 news release.

“The investment in this ultra-efficient new manufacturing line will significantly increase the rate of American Made module delivery while eliminating costly supply chain risks for customers.”

The expansion will bring Heliene’s Minnesota footprint to 95,000 square feet, and the company is expected to hire 60 people to work there.

Production at the new facility will focus on the manufacture of solar modules with super high-efficiency monocrystalline PERC cells, which are touted for their high performance in low light and long life spans.

Heliene received a number of grants to make the expansion possible, including from Mountain Iron’s Economic Development Authority (EDA), the State of Minnesota’s Renewable Development Account, and St. Louis County.

In operation since 2010, Heliene serves utility-scale, commercial and residential markets.

Production began in August at the company’s third location, a 75,000-square-foot plant in Riviera, FL. It’s the only solar module facility in the U.S. to produce super high-efficiency heterojunction solar cell modules for commercial and residential applications.