1,000 MW of Solar Module Capacity Announced in Ontario So Far, and Here Are The Players

By Tyler Hamilton, clean energy columnist . Tyler also blogs at

Following the , I figured I would investigate who else plans to build (or has built) manufacturing facilities in Ontario to take advantage of the feed-in-tariff program and to comply with associated local content rules. In the previous post I mentioned module maker Solar Semiconductor, inverter makers Fronius and Enphase, and an alliance between Bosch Solar and Sustainable Energy Technologies. Here is a partial list of other plans that are in the works, some more advanced than others, and surprisingly they total more than 1,000 megawatts of annual capacity that, you can bet, will never fully materialize:

  1. ATS Automation did say it would bring some of its , and it has delivered. It started making product in May and has built a 100 megawatt line that will be officially announced in a few weeks.
  2. A company called , operating out of Sault St. Marie, is making solar modules as part of a partnership with Helios Energy of Spain. Capacity is reportedly 30 megawatts with possibility of expansion to 80 megawatts. I’m awaiting to hear from the company to see whether they’re actually producing modules yet. UPDATE: Heliene CEO Martin Pochtaruk just informed me that manufacturing starts next month on a 50-MW capacity line “probably increasing during 2011.” He said 45 jobs have been created.
  3. a module making plant that will start with 30 megawatts of annual capacity and grow to 120 megawatts. and initially create 150 direct local jobs. It is part of a partnership with HHV of India.
  4. Spanish module maker it will build a 50-megawatt a year capacity module line that will create 150 jobs. It expects it to be operational before end of 2010.
  5. Woodbridge, Ontario-based SolGate, the only maker of solar panels in Ontario that pre-existed the Green Energy Act, has expanded its production line from a year.
  6. OpSun Panels Inc. it will build a 50 megawatt PV panel production line in Ontario. It already makes mounting systems, but says it plans to begin panel manufacturing by spring 2011.
  7. There’s also Everbrite Solar, which wants to make thin-film panels somewhere in Kingston, Ontario. These guys have kept a low profile since announcing to invest $500 million in a 150-MW capacity plant that would create 1,200 direct and indirect green collar jobs. I’m told they’re still targeting a 2012 factory opening, but I’m unclear whether the size of the plant or number of projected jobs have changed. An announcement of some sort is expected “within a few weeks,” I’m told by a source close to the project. UPDATE: Everbrite is aiming for 120 MW capacity in 2013 that will ramp up to 150 MW a year later.
  8. Also, a company called just last month it plans to build a 50 MW capacity solar module plant in London, Ontario, that will employ 100 people, with an expectation to expand the plant to 200 MW and eventually employ 500 workers. It hasn’t announced a schedule for the build, but interestingly, plans to export most of its output to Asian markets, though I assume some will be made available for Ontario.
  9. Also , Quantum Technologies (parent of Asola) and Evergreen Power Ltd. have formed a manufacturing joint venture that will see 30 MW of solar modules made in Ontario each year.
  10. UPDATE: I was contacted today by another company that has announced plans to build PV module manufacturing capacity in Ontario. The company is Silfab SpA, based out of Italy and supported by strategic partners SAS and PanAsia (Sunrise). The that it would build 120 MW of annual capacity in two stages — the first 60 MW completed by the second quarter of 2011 and the second 60 MW finalized by the end of next year. The output wouldn’t just be for Ontario, as distribution is planned for all of North America. “Our facility will employ 70 people initially, with an additional 40 workers at full capacity,” according to an e-mail from Silfab CEO Franco Traverso.

The above are just related to solar module manufacturing (assembly), and together they total about 715 835 megawatts of annual manufacturing capacity, including plans for future expansion, but this assumes they all pan out. Add 200 megawatts announced by Canadian Solar and 150 megawatts envisioned by Solar Semiconductor and we’ve surpassed well over 1,000 megawatts a year of capacity, just in Ontario. “We’re still waiting to see shovels in the ground,” said one Ontario official who is monitoring the market. “The question is whether these things break ground. If they’re going to supply product by spring 2011, they will have to make that decision soon.” My own view is that 1,000 megawatts is overkill and that many of these factories will never be build. We’ll be lucky if we can get a few hundred megawatts built. Still, it’s encouraging to see such a healthy pipeline so far.

On the inverter side we’ve also had announcements from Magnetek (production by fall 2010), SMA Solar (promising 100 to 200 jobs), and Schneider Electric (which bought Xantrex some years ago). Mounting-system company Schletter has announced plans to manufacture in Windsor as well. I’m sure there are more, but that’s the list I’ve compiled so far.

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The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Green Energy Reporter, LLC, publisher of  Green Energy Reporter.

Photo: Solar Expert, Flickr

2 Responses to “1,000 MW of Solar Module Capacity Announced in Ontario So Far, and Here Are The Players”

  1. says:

    Very interesting. They must need tracking systems and framing systems to put all them panels on. Would you suggest we open up there, and if so, when?

    Ken

  2. Hi Ken,

    Thank you for your comment. Yes, Ontario and its subsidies is an attractive market. The catch, though is a pretty ambitious Domestic Content Requirement, mandating companies manufacture up to 60 percent of their solar technology in the province. If you think you can meet the Ontario DCR, then that’s a market you should consider entering…

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