“Modules made in the Americas will bypass many of the constraints afflicting the U.S. solar industry today, in particular supply issues related to Asian manufacturers. These constraints include existing tariffs and the threat of additional tariffs; COVID-related factory closures, shipping delays and price hikes; and the federal ban on products containing silicon sourced from Hoshine, China,” Bereckis said.
“The prospect of tariffs on additional Asian countries has thrown the supply chain into turmoil, despite the Biden administration’s two-year pause. Modules from Central America will give U.S. developers a much-needed alternative,” Bereckis said.
Universal Solar is taking orders now, with delivery expected in the fourth quarter 2022. The company has signed Master Service Agreements for more than 400 megawatts (MW) of modules, and is negotiating an additional 175 MW, which would account for nearly all of the factory’s 600-MW first-line capacity.
Universal Solar’s Panama manufacturing plant is comprised of 200,000 square feet in a state-of-the-art facility with equipment sourced from industry-leading OEMs. Equipment is being purchased and installed, up to 50 employees are being hired, and a grand opening is scheduled for fall.
The first module lines will range from 350 to 545 watts. All will be high-efficiency (20.04 to 21.46 percent), low-LID, mono PERC and some will feature half-cell technology. Universal Solar will offer 25- to 30-year linear power output warranties and 12- to 15-year material and workmanship warranties.
Universal Solar’s modules will be 100 percent-compliant with the U.S. Commerce Department’s Withhold and Release Order on Hoshine silicon.
Shipments from the plant in Central America will reach any U.S. port in approximately five days.
Universal Solar chose Panama for its strategic location and because it is exempt from tariffs like those affecting Asian modules. The U.S. has a long-standing Free Trade Agreement with Panama, and Panama is an example of “near-shoring” in which U.S. businesses locate operations in countries close to home.
The Universal facility is in the Colón Logistics Park located in the Colón Container Terminal CCT in Colón, Republic of Panama. It is in a Free Trade Zone, where goods are imported and exported without incurring taxes or duties or being declared.
Universal Solar provides modules and procurement, development and financing services to large commercial and utility-scale developers, EPCs and other large-volume buyers of solar modules.