Suniva Inc. is a U.S. manufacturer of high-efficiency silicon solar cells and high-power solar modules. Suniva's corporate headquarters and manufacturing plant, with a capacity of 170 MW, are located in Norcross, Georgia. Wikipedia.
News Article | April 26, 2017
America just took a step closer to another solar trade war. But not just with China. With the rest of the world. Today, Suniva filed a petition with U.S. International Trade Commission calling for new tariffs on solar cells and minimum prices for solar modules imported from around the globe. The company is asking for duties of 40 cents per watt on imported cells and a floor price of 78 cents per watt on modules. If implemented, those prices would make America the highest-priced solar country. The solar industry has been waiting for this filing since last week, when Suniva hinted in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy declaration that it would seek to open up another trade case. The process is now underway. Suniva, a manufacturer based in Georgia, declared bankruptcy last Monday. The company built manufacturing operations for high-efficiency silicon cells and modules in Georgia (450 megawatts of cell capacity) and Michigan (200 megawatts of module capacity). But it lost more than $50 million since 2015 as global module oversupply pushed prices to record lows. Suniva couldn't compete with module prices at 35 cents per watt. It blamed China and other Asian countries for "flooding the U.S. market" with modules below cost. Now Suniva is looking for relief. And it's doing so in a unique way. The company filed a Section 201 petition under the 1974 Trade Act -- a tool that could allow the president to implement tariffs, minimum prices or quotas on solar products from anywhere in the world if "serious injury" is proven. It was last used by the steel industry in 2002, which resulted in a three-year tariff schedule on steel products from a number of countries. If anti-dumping and countervailing duties investigations at the Commerce Department are a scalpel, then Section 201 is a hammer. It is a comparatively swift, blunt instrument. After a petition is filed, the U.S. International Trade Commission has 120 days to review. And if it decides that the industry is facing serious injury, it has another month or two to issue recommendations. The president then has the authority to follow the recommendations -- or potentially act on his own. Trump's camp specifically cited Section 201 on the campaign trail. Although solar doesn't seem to be on the president's mind, this could be a potential win for his trade agenda. Suniva has done a lot of the leg work for the administration. Suniva is making a big ask. It wants to nearly double the price of imported solar modules. "Thus, petitioner seeks a recommendation to the President of four years of relief of an initial duty rate on cells of $0.40/watt, along with an initial floor price on modules of $0.78/watt. Petitioner also seeks other equitable remedies that will effectively assist the domestic industry to make a positive adjustment to import competition. Finally, petitioner seeks a recommendation from the Commission to the President that the United States negotiate with trading partners to address the global supply imbalance and overcapacity in CSPV cells and modules." The tariffs would be implemented on a four-year schedule. Suniva's suggested tariff schedule for crystalline-silicon PV looks like this: The company says the proposed four-year tariff schedule will "allow the domestic industry to survive long enough that it can benefit from actions of the U.S. government, and foreign governments and producers to address the massive excess global capacity that has depressed global CSPV cells and modules prices to unsustainable levels." If the International Trade Commission and President Trump agree with Suniva's case, the downstream pricing environment could change dramatically -- particularly for utility-scale solar developers. Ben Gallagher, a solar analyst with GTM Research, described the impact to utility-scale projects: "Those prices increase current U.S. utility single-axis tracking system pricing from $1.08/Wdc to $1.56/Wdc -- which is...more or less 2015 system pricing." Jade Jones, a senior solar analyst with GTM Research, explained the impact on module pricing: "That would bring us to module price levels seen in the last oversupply cycle. So similar to prices in 2012. That would also make the U.S. the highest priced market in the world, with module prices more than double other regions." GTM Research put together an analysis of the consequences. You can find it here. Demand destruction in the utility-scale sector "could be quite significant," said former SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch, speaking on a briefing call organized by Roth Capital Partners. "You're going to double your PPA prices. You will have several gigawatts of potential demand erosion." The upstream impact is less clear. It would make U.S. manufacturers more competitive -- but in a smaller downstream market. Resch said the tariffs could get more companies to "re-look at the United States" for expansion. But it's unclear how much capacity would move to America. "A lot of that capacity is in the process of being built. It probably would not be easily shifted to the U.S.," said Phil Shen, a senior research analyst at Roth Capital Partners, speaking on the briefing call. According to Suniva, failure to implement widespread tariffs would prevent any expansion of the U.S. solar manufacturing sector: "Without global relief, the domestic industry will be playing 'whack-a-mole' against CSPV cells and modules from particular countries." There are also geopolitical implications. These actions could apply to every country. At a time when the Trump administration is considering breaking America's commitment to the Paris climate agreement, this could create another diplomatic sticking point. What are the chances of action? "Over 50 percent," said John Gurley, a trade lawyer and partner at Arent Fox LLP, during the briefing call. "Like every lawyer, I speak with triple caveats. One never knows where this will go. History tells us it's more likely we'll get a remedy than not." A final review could come by August. If the government finds injury, it could recommend action by September. If the president agrees, he could make a final decision by October or November. "There's going to be a lack of clarity for several months. It makes it very difficult to predict," said Gurley. SolarWorld, the German manufacturer that led the original trade case against Chinese imports, issued a muted reaction to Suniva's filing. "SolarWorld -- as the largest U.S. crystalline-silicon solar manufacturer, with more than 40 years of U.S. manufacturing experience -- will assess the case brought by Suniva but prefers that any action to be taken against unfair trade shall consider all parts of the U.S. solar value chain. We're committed to helping to find a way that also considers the interests of other parties playing fair in the U.S. solar market," said Juergen Stein, the company's U.S. president, in a prepared statement. Abigail Ross Hopper, the new president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, came out in opposition. The organization speaks for thousands of developers and installers, who will likely be opposed to any new trade actions. "We strongly urge the federal government to find a resolution that bolsters the competitiveness of American solar cell and panel manufacturing, which employs approximately 2,000 people in the U.S., without erecting new trade barriers. SEIA opposes any resolution that restricts fairly-traded imports of solar equipment through new tariffs or other barriers that endanger the livelihoods of the 260,000 American solar workers and their families living in every state in the Union," said Hopper in a statement. UBS equities analysts suggested the impact would be a net-negative for America's solar industry. "This appears substantially more negative than positive for the U.S. solar industry, though ASP-challenged SPWR and FSLR could see a benefit for utilizing domestic manufacturing (only FSLR currently has any substantial running lines in Ohio, SPWR could plausibly bring P series technology in). As the vast majority of U.S. solar jobs are non-manufacturing (installation, sales, technician) in nature, a substantial ramp in ASPs would threaten the economics of incremental installations (including developers with bids assuming cost declines) and adds risk to our input cost decline thesis for RUN and other resi/developer peers. While we emphasize that panels are currently no more than ~10% of the install cost for resi, 10-30/W cent increase in panel prices would prove quite disruptive and substantially problematic for the lower cost/w C&I and utility-scale markets, particularly for development contracts without firm panel delivery." Meanwhile, the bloodbath in solar manufacturing continues. GTM Research compiled the latest U.S. layoffs. And while America now hosts 1,600 megawatts of solar module manufacturing capacity, the country's share of the global market continues to drop. Suniva believes its petition is the last line of defense against this trend. "The evidence clearly indicates that, given the response of the largest global manufacturers, such a 'targeted-country' strategy is set up for failure. The global industry has proven, to the sum of billions of dollars of investment, that it will go to exceptional lengths to avoid investment in the United States, and that given any loophole, will prosecute against that loophole vigorously. It is for these reasons, that this action, with its request to add tariffs to subject goods made anywhere outside the United States, is the sole effective cure," wrote the company in its petition. In a bizarre twist, Suniva is majority-owned by Shunfeng International Clean Energy, a Chinese company. Join GTM for the 10th Annual Solar Summit & 2nd Annual S3 Solar Software Summit in Arizona May 16-18. We’ve got the biggest names in the solar industry confirmed to attend and speak. And we've got a packed agenda of topics including solar software, energy storage, finance, community solar, corporate procurement, balance of systems, and much more. Check out the event site here.
News Article | April 18, 2017
Georgia-based solar manufacturer Suniva filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday, after a multi-year struggle to keep pace with steep price declines in the global solar industry. The bankruptcy could mark the beginning of another trade dispute between America and Asia -- and quite possibly the rest of the world. It could also be the first real test for the Trump administration on trade. Suniva, which produces high-efficiency solar cells and modules in Georgia and Michigan, blamed China for "flooding the U.S. market" with solar equipment below cost, according to documents submitted to a Delaware bankruptcy court. Suniva lost more than $50 million since 2015. At its peak, the manufacturer employed 265 people. It now has 35 employees who are helping wind down operations. "For many years, Chinese manufacturers of solar cells have benefited from favorable, state-sponsored financing and lower labor costs, allowing them to flood the United States market for solar cells and modules with cheap imports. This has negatively impacted manufacturers based in the United States, such as Suniva," wrote David Baker, the company's restructuring officer, in a declaration. The U.S. Commerce Department issued tariffs on Chinese solar cells and modules in 2012. However, manufacturers with operations in the U.S. complained about a "loophole" that allowed Chinese companies to assemble solar modules in other Asian countries and continue dumping products below cost. The government finalized tariffs in 2014 that included products from Taiwan. But Suniva argued that the problem persists. "Notwithstanding these protections, solar cell manufacturers in the United States continue to face steep price competition from China, as well as non-China-based overseas manufacturers not subject to United States tariffs, particularly from countries in southeast Asia, including from Chinese manufacturers that have moved production from mainland China to southeast Asia and elsewhere to avoid the United States tariffs. As a result, these tariffs have not been effective in preventing dumping of Chinese solar products into the United States," wrote Baker. Module oversupply is hurting manufacturers around the world. Module prices fell nearly 40 percent in 2016, according to GTM Research. The world's leading solar companies -- Chinese and American alike -- are under intense pressure to cut costs and restructure their operations. Now, Suniva's financial collapse could spark another major dispute over solar trade practices. Buried in the company's Chapter 11 declaration is a reference to Section 201 of the 1974 Trade Act. Suniva plans to argue to the U.S. International Trade Commission that it has been "seriously injured or threatened with serious injury" by solar imports. It will ask the government for further protections. One of the conditions to SQN’s post-petition financing is that Suniva prosecute a petition under section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974, 19 U.S.C. § 2251 (“Section 201”). Whereas Chinese and Taiwanese manufactured solar cells are subject to U.S. tariffs, solar cells manufactured elsewhere are not. It is solar cells manufactured in southeast Asia and included in solar modules or panels that are flooding the United States market, driving down prices. Domestic industries seriously injured or threatened with serious injury by increased imports may petition the USITC under Section 201 for import relief. After being petitioned, the USITC determines whether an article is being imported in such increased quantities that it is a substantial cause of serious injury, or threat thereof, to the U.S. industry producing an article like or directly competitive with the imported article. If the Commission makes an affirmative determination, it recommends to the President of the United States relief that would prevent or remedy injury and facilitate industry adjustment to import competition. The President makes the final decision whether to provide relief and the amount of relief. The USITC must generally make its finding within 120 days of receipt of a Section 201 petition and must transmit its report to the President, together with any relief recommendations, within 180 days after receipt of the petition. If the USITC finding is affirmative, it must recommend a remedy to the President, who determines what relief, if any, will be imposed. Such relief may be in the form of a tariff increase, quantitative restrictions, or orderly marketing agreements. Importantly, such relief, if found applicable to U.S. solar cell manufacturers, could protect U.S. based manufacturers against imports of solar cells manufactured in southeast Asia as well as Japan, Germany, South Korea, and Canada. Therefore, if a Section 201 petition is successful, it could resuscitate Suniva’s business, allow Suniva to compete with the lower cost imports currently flooding the U.S. market, and dramatically increase the value of Suniva’s substantial equipment and enterprise. If Suniva files a petition under Section 201, it could have consequences for America's trade relationships with virtually every country. But the company would have to prove "serious" injury. Here's how the International Trade Commission describes the bar: "Section 201 requires that the injury or threatened injury be 'serious' and that the increased imports must be a 'substantial cause' (important and not less than any other cause) of the serious injury or threat of serious injury." Shayle Kann, GTM's senior vice president, has been following America's solar trade wars closely over the years. He said Suniva's petition (if filed) would broaden solar trade disputes: "The range of potential remedies is wide." "First, if the ITC does find 'significant injury' to the domestic industry, it could recommend a wide range of remedies, including import tariffs, import volume limits, and other means. Second, these remedies could be aimed at all countries, unlike the previous solar trade case, which impacted only China and Taiwan. Third, the timeline on Section 201 investigations is relatively short (once filed, a recommendation could reach the president in six months)," said Kann. "Finally, given that this would be the first major trade action of the Trump administration and that the final decision in Section 201 proceedings lies directly with the president, this could have wider political ramifications," he said. It may also align the Trump administration with the solar industry for the first time. The White House has specifically called out Section 201 as a “vital tool for industries needing temporary relief from imports to become more competitive.” Suniva's petition would put the Trump administration's trade policies to the test. Suniva has not yet filed the petition. But "this is a highly important development to monitor," said Kann.
News Article | April 27, 2017
To many, France’s ongoing elections are the latest showdown between the liberal world order and a new brand of right-wing populism. That narrative follows a similar path in energy. France’s elections are pitting nuclear versus renewables, closed markets versus open, and disruption versus protectionism. France is going through a quite radical revaluation of its electricity mix. It gets about 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear. However, in 2015, President François Holland set a policy that would phase out aging nuclear plants, and reduce nuclear generation to 50 percent by 2025. He wants to fill in the gap with more renewables and efficiency. Now the two presidential candidates -- Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen -- are sparring over what to do with nuclear. It’s part of a broader debate over nationalizing the energy giant EDF, expanding or limiting energy trading with the E.U., and mixing variable renewables with a really high nuclear grid. On this week's podcast: As we near the May 7 run-off election between Macron and Le Pen, we consider the future of the world’s leading nuclear energy power during a time of political volatility and electricity market transformation. Then, are we at the start of a new solar trade war between America and the rest of the world? We'll discuss Suniva's wide-ranging trade complaint to the government. Finally, the U.K. recently went coal-free for a day. We place its significance. This podcast is sponsored by KACO New Energy, a leading solar inverter company with superior engineering and unmatched customer service: http://kaco-newenergy.com/ Make sure to subscribe to our other podcast, The Interchange. iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-interchange/id1221460035?mt=2 SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/theinterchangepodcast
Suniva Inc. | Date: 2011-11-21
Solar cells and methods for their manufacture are disclosed. An example solar cell may comprise a substrate comprising a p-type base layer and an n-type selective emitter layer formed over the p-type base layer. The n-type selective emitter layer may comprise one or more first doped regions comprising implanted dopant and one or more second doped regions comprising diffused dopant. The one or more first doped regions may be more heavily doped than the one or more second doped regions. A p-n junction may be formed at the interface of the base layer and the selective emitter layer, such that the p-n junction and the selective emitter layer are both formed during a single anneal cycle.
Suniva Inc. | Date: 2012-01-09
Solar cells and methods for their manufacture are disclosed. An example method may include providing a substrate comprising a base layer and introducing n-type dopant to the front surface of the base layer by ion implantation. The substrate may be annealed by heating the substrate to a temperature to anneal the implant damage and activate the introduced dopant, thereby forming an n-type doped layer into the front surface of the base layer. Oxygen may be introduced during the annealing step to form a passivating oxide layer on the n-type doped layer. Back contacts may be screen-printed on the back surface of the base layer, and a p-type doped layer may be formed at the interface of the back surface of the base layer and the back contacts during firing of the back contacts. The back contacts may provide an electrical connection to the p-type doped layer.
Suniva Inc. | Date: 2013-02-28
Back junction solar cells having improved emitter layer coverage and methods for their manufacture are disclosed. In one embodiment, a back junction solar cell includes an n-type base layer having an emitter layer formed from a first p-type doped region (e.g., formed by liquid phase epitaxial regrowth) and a second p-type doped region (e.g., formed by ion implantation) that extends beyond the first region. In various embodiments, this configuration permits the first p-type doped region to be formed with a border between it and the edges of the wafer (e.g., to prevent inadvertent shunting of the cell), while the second p-type doped region extends the emitter layer to improve emitter layer coverage. In certain embodiments, the second doped p-type region may extend to the edges of the wafers n-type base layer.
Suniva Inc. | Date: 2012-03-21
Solar cells, solar modules, and methods for their manufacture are disclosed. An example method may comprise forming a dielectric layer on at least one or more edges of a substrate, and then introducing dopant to at least one surface of the substrate. The substrate may be subjected to a heating process to at least drive the dopant to a predefined depth, thereby forming at least one of an emitter layer and a surface field layer. In the example method, the dielectric layer may not be removed during a subsequent manufacturing process. Associated solar cells and solar modules are also provided.
Suniva Inc. | Date: 2011-11-30
A thin silicon solar cell is described. An example solar cell may be fabricated from a crystalline silicon wafer having a thickness of approximately 50 micrometers to 500 micrometers. The solar cell comprises a first region having a p-n homojunction, a second region that creates heterojunction surface passivation, and a third region that creates heterojunction surface passivation. Amorphous silicon layers are deposited on both sides of the silicon wafer. A final layer of transparent conductive oxide is formed on both sides Metal contacts are applied to the transparent conductive oxide.
Suniva Inc. | Date: 2012-09-28
Various embodiments of the present invention are directed to a reduced-area bus bar for collecting current from contacts on the surface of a solar cell. According to various embodiments described herein, a reduced-area bus bar is provided having a width that varies at various points along its longitudinal axis. In particular, the larger width portions of the reduced-area bus bar are configured to provide sufficient pull strength when an interconnecting ribbon is soldered along the bus bar, while the smaller width portions of the reduced-area bus bar enable a reduction in the material required to form the bus bar. Additionally, various embodiments are contemplated in which the reduced-area bus bar comprises a series of segments disposed in a spaced-apart relationship along the bus bars longitudinal axis.
Suniva Inc. | Date: 2014-05-09
A mounting system for mounting a plurality of solar panels is provided. In one aspect, the mounting system has plurality of panel modules and at least one of: a means for selectively securing a pair of adjacently positioned panel modules to a support structure in an edge-to-edge relationship along a mounting axis that is transverse to the coupling axis, and a means for selectively locking a distal end of one pair of mounting members of one panel module to a proximal end of another pair of mounting members of an adjoining panel module to form at least a portion of one coupled panel module that is adjoined end-to-end along a coupling axis that is transverse to the mounting axis.