June 22, 2023
U.S. installation of Vikram panels in 2018
Indian solar panel manufacturer Vikram Solar has entered a joint venture with investment firms Phalanx Impact Partners and Das & Co. — VSK Energy — to invest $1.5 billion in U.S. solar panel manufacturing.
The first $250 million phase will go toward starting a 2-GW solar module assembly factory in Brighton, Colorado. The new factory should create 900 direct jobs. VSK Energy expects to open the facility in 2024 and eventually scale to 4 GW of annual production.
The second phase would use the remaining $1.25 billion to establish a 4-GW solar ingot, wafer and cell manufacturing facility somewhere in the South. The ingot/wafer/cell factory should commence operations in 2025 and create over 1,500 direct jobs.
“Vikram Solar is proud to be part of this monumental endeavor with the rest of the VSK team,” said Gyanesh Chaudhary, Founder, Chairman, and Managing Director of Vikram Solar. “With our 17 years of experience in solar manufacturing, combined with the VSK team’s commitment to a clean energy future, we look forward to driving the solar industry forward and setting a new benchmark for innovation and efficiency in solar manufacturing in the United States.”
Mortenson, one of the country’s top solar EPC firms and a commercial construction firm, will oversee the engineering and construction of both phases of VSK Energy’s planned investment. To construct both phases of VSK Energy’s planned investment, Mortenson intends to hire hundreds of team members from the local communities involved in the project, including pipefitters, electricians, sheet metal workers, plumbers, operators, carpenters, laborers, safety professionals, and more.
“Mortenson is thrilled and honored to spearhead the design and construction of this ambitious and transformative project for VSK Energy,” said Brad Heitland, Director of Business Development for Mortenson. “This project represents a remarkable feat of engineering, construction, and a collaborative effort from several organizations across the private and public sectors around the world. It symbolizes a collective dedication to a clean energy future, and as a leader in renewable energy infrastructure engineering, procurement, and construction, Mortenson is ready to leverage our extensive expertise to further grow and strengthen America’s position in solar manufacturing.”
Das & Co. managing director Sriram Das, who will now be the co-chairman of VSK Energy, commented that VSK’s investment into U.S. manufacturing is due to the Inflation Reduction Act.
“The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act was a landmark moment for the clean energy future of the United States,” Das said. “The Biden Administration and Congress have called for immediate action and through our partnership in VSK, we are taking a decisive step toward achieving solar technology self-sufficiency, fortifying America’s energy security, and propelling large-scale solar deployment. I am also particularly proud to bring together leaders from both the United States and India to make this investment and commitment to America’s clean energy future.”
The solar panel factory in Colorado is likely what was earlier referred to locally as “Project Porthos.” The Colorado Economic Development Commission approved nearly $9.2 million in Job Growth Incentive Tax Credits for the project, on condition that the solar company create 951 jobs over an eight-year period. Before VSK was revealed as the company behind the news, The Denver Post reported that VSK was also considering Texas for a factory but liked the Colorado site because of its “proximity to the airport and the I-25, I-70 and I-76 highway corridors, and its more available housing supply.”
Vikram Solar largely makes solar panels for the large commercial and utility-scale markets. The panel manufacturer currently has a cumulative production capacity of 3.5 GW within India.
By Kelly Pickerel