Energy

Canada's Heliene opening its second U.S. solar panel factory

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Workers lift a solar panel onto a roof during a residential solar installation in Scripps Ranch, San Diego, California, U.S. October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Aug 10 (Reuters) - Canadian solar panel maker Heliene will open its second U.S. factory in Florida next month to produce a new product aimed at the booming residential market, it said on Tuesday.

The company is among a small group of foreign solar producers that have set up U.S. factories in recent years after the Trump administration imposed hefty tariffs on overseas-made solar cells and panels.

Heliene makes panels for the U.S. utility-scale market in Canada and at a Minnesota facility that opened in 2018.

The expansion is aimed at capturing demand for clean energy sources that support the push to electrify passenger cars and homes, Chief Executive Martin Pochtaruk said in an interview.

"The electrification of everything we do is unstoppable," Pochtaruk said, pointing to U.S. President Joe Biden's executive order aimed at making half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 electric. "We're the engine to that."

The United States is the world's second biggest solar market after China, but sources most of its panels from Asia.

Heliene's 75,000 square foot facility in Riviera Beach, Florida, will employ 60 workers and have a manufacturing capacity of 100 megawatts.

The factory will make products based on high-efficiency solar technology known as heterojunction. The black panels will produce more energy in a smaller footprint than rivals on the market, and look more attractive on rooftops, Pochtaruk said.

Despite higher U.S. manufacturing costs, Pochtaruk said Heliene has succeeded because it is able to provide panels without the long wait for them to arrive from overseas.

U.S. tariffs on foreign-made panels are due to expire early next year, though two domestic producers have requested an extension.

Heliene is not banking on their continuation, however, and supports other solar manufacturing incentives such as Senate Democrats' proposed tax breaks for producers.

Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Richard Chang

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