The month of August was ripe with new manufacturing plant announcements, representing billions in investments and thousands of jobs. Industry behemoths including First Solar, Northrup Grumman, Siemens, and Lockheed Martin revealed major projects. Throughout the month, multiple significant solar projects were unveiled, as well as emerging new ventures spanning transportation equipment, food processing, biotech, and more.
Making everything from solar modules and biomaterials to heat exchangers and phosphates, today we’re exploring some of the most exciting new manufacturing operations announced in August 2023.
First up, Maxeon Solar Technologies, a global solar company, announced it will invest $1 billion to build its first U.S. factory in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The factory will make advanced solar cells and panels using TOPCon and shingled-cell technologies for both utility and rooftop solar markets in the U.S. The project is expected to get a loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The factory will be one of the largest in the U.S. with a planned capacity of three gigawatts, which could be increased to 4.5 gigawatts later. The factory will create up to 1,800 jobs and produce millions of solar panels each year. The factory will also help boost the domestic solar supply chain and reduce carbon emissions. Maxeon’s CEO Bill Mulligan said: "Thanks to the support of the Biden administration, the U.S. is now poised to re-shore and scale up a domestic solar supply chain."
And in another major solar announcement, First Solar, a leading U.S.-based energy technology company, will build its fifth American manufacturing facility at the Acadiana Regional Airport in Iberia Parish, Louisiana. The facility will make high-performance photovoltaic (PV) solar modules that are carbon-negative and use 100% U.S.-made components. The project will create more than 700 direct jobs with a total annual payroll of at least $40 million4.
The project is the largest single capital investment in the area’s history and is supported by a $197 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and other incentives from the state and local governments. First Solar’s CEO Mark Widmar said: "We are pleased to partner with Louisiana as we lean into our commitment to creating enduring value for America by expanding our solar manufacturing footprint and the domestic value chains that enable it."
In other solar news, Spanish solar tracker manufacturer PV Hardware (PVH), globally renowned as the third largest in its sector with an impressive market share of nearly 10%, is set to revolutionize the American solar landscape. With a strong foothold in Europe, the Middle East, and Australia, PVH is now poised to establish its own factory in Texas, scheduled for operation by July 2023. This will be North America's sole solar tracker owned facility, distinguishing PVH from competitors that often rely on sourcing agreements. By designing and producing their own products, PVH ensures adaptability to client needs and swift integration of solar advancements, fostering a new level of innovation.
Meanwhile, Nextracker, a leading provider of solar trackers and software solutions, and Asteelflash/USI, a global electronics component manufacturer, have launched a dedicated U.S. manufacturing line for Nextracker’s self-powered controller (SPC) and high voltage power supply. The line is located in a 197,000 square foot facility in Fremont, CA, and represents a multi-million-dollar joint investment in this first phase, creating new jobs and boosting local economic growth.
The SPC and high voltage power supply are key components of Nextracker’s tracker systems, such as NX HorizonTM, which enable solar panels to follow the sun’s movement and optimize plant performance. Nextracker’s CEO Dan Shugar said: "Our expanding product manufacturing footprint is bringing new jobs throughout the country and enables us to better serve customers. We are pleased to add California to our production capability, with Silicon Valley having some of the best tech talent in the world."
Lingrove, a start-up that makes eco-friendly composite materials, has announced the opening of a new green manufacturing plant in San Rafael, California. The plant will produce ekoa®, a carbon-negative, clean-air, and high-performance product that can replace wood, plastics, and metals in interior applications. The plant will also create new jobs and double the company’s team size.
The expansion is supported by more than a million dollars in assets invested by Lingrove and its backers, including Mitsubishi Chemical Group and SOSV/Indiebio.
Lingrove’s CEO Joe Luttwak said: "Demand for reinventing interiors with truly sustainable, clean-air, non-carcinogenic biomaterials is off the charts. We’re excited to scale production to meet that need and happy that we’ll bring jobs to the Northern California economy."
ICL, a global specialty minerals company, has started the construction of a $400 million battery materials manufacturing plant in St. Louis, Missouri. The plant will produce lithium iron phosphate (LFP), a key component for energy storage and electric vehicle batteries. The plant is expected to create more than 150 jobs and be operational by 2025.
The project is supported by a $197 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and backed by Mitsubishi Chemical Group and SOSV/Indiebio. ICL’s CEO Raviv Zoller said: “We’re excited to scale production to meet the need for truly sustainable, clean-air, non-carcinogenic biomaterials and happy that we’ll bring jobs to the Northern California economy.”
Enzene Biosciences, a biotech company from India, will open its first U.S. facility on the Princeton West Innovation Campus in Hopewell, New Jersey. The plant will produce biosimilars, novel biologics, synthetic peptides, and phytopharmaceuticals for global pharmaceutical companies. The company will create 300 jobs in the state.
The project is supported by Choose New Jersey, a nonprofit economic development organization that promotes New Jersey as a business destination. Enzene’s CEO Dr. Himanshu Gadgil said: "New Jersey’s highly skilled workforce, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and renowned academic institutions make it an ideal location for Enzene, ensuring that we can deliver exceptional services and support to our clients in the U.S."
Wabash, a global leader in connected solutions for the transportation, logistics and distribution industries, held a ribbon cutting event today for its new dry van trailer manufacturing facility in Lafayette, Indiana. The facility is the result of the largest investment Wabash has made in a single operation in its 38-year history.
The facility features advanced manufacturing technology that improves the worker experience and the production process. The facility can produce an additional 10,000 dry van trailers annually, doubling the company’s capacity and efficiency. Wabash’s CEO Brent Yeagy said: "Today is special because the culmination of this massive project represents what we can achieve at Wabash when we allow ourselves to re-imagine what’s possible in manufacturing."
BioVeritas, a company that produces clean label mold inhibitors from cultured microorganisms, has inaugurated a new production and packaging facility in Bryan, Texas. The facility will make food-grade customer samples of its products, which can replace petrochemicals in baked foods and animal feed. The facility covers 4,200 square feet and is an addition to BioVeritas’ market demonstration unit.
The project is supported by Ara Partners, a private equity firm that invests in industrial carbonization. BioVeritas’ COO Stephen Toon said: “Having reached food-safe production capability, BioVeritas is set to become one of the leading players in the clean label movement. Our recent third-party shelf-life study showed that our cultured mold inhibitor proved to be just as effective as its petrochemical counterpart in tortillas and 30% more effective than a leading clean label ingredient in both bread and tortillas without impacting the sensory profile of the finished product.”
Zilmet USA, a global expansion tank and heat exchanger manufacturer, will establish its first U.S. manufacturing operation in Georgetown County. The company’s $32.7 million investment will create approximately 50 new jobs.
Zilmet USA, headquartered in Rhode Island, will build a 150,000-square-foot facility in Andrews, S.C. to produce its products for the U.S. market. The facility is expected to be completed in late 2024 and operational in 2025. Zilmet USA North American General Manager Scott Jacobsen said: “This new facility will allow us to better serve our U.S. customer base in addition to freeing up existing capacity in Italy for our European and worldwide demand.”
Northrop Grumman, a global aerospace and defense technology company, has launched a Hypersonics Capability Center (HCC) in Elkton, Maryland. The HCC will make advanced propulsion solutions that can power hypersonic missiles beyond Mach 5. The HCC is the first U.S. facility designed specifically for large-scale manufacturing of air-breathing propulsion, which includes ramjet and scramjet propulsion.
The project is supported by a $197 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and will support the U.S. Air Force’s Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile development and production. The HCC features state-of-the-art production technology, implements digital engineering and consolidates engine manufacturing processes. Northrop Grumman’s vice president, missile products, Jim Kalberer said: "This is a pivotal moment for hypersonics weapons; we have moved beyond building and demonstrating propulsion prototypes to large-scale manufacturing."
Siemens Mobility, a leading provider of transportation and logistics solutions, has started the construction of a $220 million train manufacturing facility in Lexington, North Carolina. The facility will produce passenger coaches, locomotives and light rail vehicles for the U.S. market. The facility will create more than 500 new jobs and be operational by 2024.
The project is supported by a $197 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and other incentives from the state and local governments. Siemens Mobility’s CEO Roland Busch said: “America’s investing in rail – and we are investing in America. Siemens has invested $3 billion in manufacturing expansions and M&A activities in the U.S. over the past four years alone.”
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Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company, has opened a new facility that streamlines small satellite processing to enable high-rate delivery. The facility, located on the company’s Waterton campus, will house the company’s Space Development Agency (SDA) Tranche 1 Transport Layer satellites, among other smallsat programs and technology demonstrators.
The facility features six scalable parallel assembly lines and is configurable to host different classifications of missions concurrently. The facility covers 20,000 square feet and can produce more than 180 satellites per year. Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager for Military Space, Johnathon Caldwell, said: “This new facility is one of many investments our company has made to lower costs and to deliver scalable solutions with increased speed and agility.”
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