Lithuanian module maker says European and US clients moving away from Chinese supply chain

Vilnius-headquartered Solitek is preparing to ramp its output next year on the back of rising orders in Scandinavia, and says its new partnership with New York-based Convalt Energy will reduce its dependence on Asian semiconductors and solar cells.

November 8, 2021

The prevalence of Asian-made components in the solar supply chain was again highlighted today, in a press release issued by Lithuanian module maker Solitek to announce a deal to supply its products to a U.S. buyer.

Revealing an arrangement to supply panels to New York-based energy company Convalt Energy, the press release quoted Solitek boss Julius Sakalauskas as saying that, against the backdrop of the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow: “The U.S. is looking for partners in Europe as an alternative to Chinese production.”

The Solitek statement went on to point out the majority of the company’s modules are exported to European companies “as Europe [is] increasingly focused on the quality of the solar module components, the origin of the components, and production quality, while being uninclined [sic] to purchase modules from Asian manufacturers.”

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Revealing further details of the memorandum of understanding signed with Convalt, however, Solitek said the two-way arrangement would give it the option of purchasing U.S.-made semiconductors and solar cells from its transatlantic partner, “which will allow the company to diversify its essential elements and reduce its dependency on the Asian market.”

The terms of the agreement signed with Convalt – which is owned by New York-based financial services business ACO Investment Group – indicate 15 MW of Solitek panels are set to be supplied to the U.S. company in the second and third quarters of next year, “as soon as module certification is completed.”

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It was not clear whether that would be the extent of the module supply arrangement and pv magazine has contacted Solitek to seek further details. Convalt’s LinkedIn profile states the U.S. company is developing “up to” 2 GW of solar capacity in India.

The partnership arrangement also includes plans by the two companies to “develop renewable energy projects in Lithuania, which includes not only remote solar power projects, but also wind farms, which together will generate up to 1 GW of energy per year.” pv magazine has asked Solitek for clarification about whether that 1 GW figure relates to generation capacity or expected annual output.

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Solitek CEO Sakalauskas used the press statement to call for more “stable support” for Lithuanian renewables. “In Lithuania, households can use … government support for the installation of solar panels,” said the chief executive, “but in 2021 the financing mechanism was very unstable.”

The Baltic business, which last year completed the protracted sale of a module production fab in Vilnius to Finnish company Valoe, said it is planning to raise its annual solar module production capacity from 100 MW to 170 MW next year on the back of sales which more than doubled to Finland in the summer, rose 25% in Sweden, and were up 13% in Norway.

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