German crystalline silicon photovoltaic wafer manufacturing company NexWafe announced that it has established a US subsidiary. It is evaluating the development of multi-gigawatt solar-grade silicon wafer production facilities in the United States, with an initial target annual output of 6GW. The potential U.S. operation will leverage NexWafe's EpiNex production technology, which is being used at the company's 250 MW plant under construction in Bitterfeld, Germany. Nexwafe announced a €30 million funding in May 2023.
Nexwafe is commercializing kerfless wafers. Its single-crystal silicon wafers are grown directly in a gas-to-wafer manufacturing process that is said to be not only more efficient but also capable of producing ultra-thin wafers. Its wafers are compatible with traditional battery processing, which reportedly minimizes waste and reduces the carbon footprint by 60% compared to traditional processes.
NexWafe has appointed Jonathan Pickering, former president of JA Solar Americas, as vice president of business development for North America to spearhead its search for U.S. business. The company is actively working to establish strategic partnerships, evaluate potential manufacturing locations and associated regional incentives, and secure offtake agreements for domestic wafer supply.
Several photovoltaic companies are already committed to manufacturing advanced photovoltaic cells and modules on a multi-gigawatt scale in the United States. But there are now major bottlenecks in the supply chain for U.S. silicon wafer sources.
It is understood that there are currently seven companies considering plans to build silicon wafer production capacity in the United States. Currently, only Qcells is building solar-grade silicon wafer production capacity in Cartersville, Georgia, USA, with an expected production capacity of 3.3GW and is expected to start production at the end of 2024. Convalt Energy has completed the site selection of its factory in Watertown, New York, US. CubicPV, NorSun, SPI Energy (expected production capacity 1.5GW), and Vikram Solar are all still considering and planning silicon wafer production, and are expected to start production in 2025.