India’s Vikram Solar is part of a new joint venture called VSK Energy that plans a two-phase investment up to $1.5bn to develop a vertically integrated solar manufacturing operation in the US by 2025, creating 2,400 direct jobs in Colorado and an unnamed southern state.
VSK Energy’s other investors include Phalanx Impact Partners, a sustainability-focused private equity firm, and Das & Co., which describes itself as a “New York based family office specialising in real estate, venture capital, and infrastructure projects in emerging markets.” Phalanx is also based there.
The first phase consists of a $250m investment to develop a crystalline silicon module manufacturing facility in Brighton, Colorado, about 23 miles (37km) northeast of Denver.
VSK Energy expects the plant will begin operation in 2024 with initial 2GW capacity with plans to potentially double output. It would employ more than 900 people with an average annual $70,000 salary.
A planned $1.25bn second phase of investment would complete the company’s vertical integration of the solar manufacturing process with development of a factory in a southern state to produce solar ingots, cells, and wafers.
This facility would begin operation in 2025 “following the evaluation and finalisation of available federal, state, regional, and local incentives for the project.” It will create more than 1,500 direct jobs.
Passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the federal climate law signed by President Joe Biden last August, was a landmark moment for the US clean energy future, according to Siriam Das, co-chair of VSK Energy and managing director of Das & Co.
"The Biden administration and Congress have called for immediate action and through our partnership in VSK, we are taking a decisive step towards achieving solar technology self-sufficiency, fortifying America's energy security, and propelling large-scale solar deployment,” he said.
Mortenson, which has installed more than 9GW of US solar capacity, will oversee engineering and construction of both project phases.
VSK Energy’s unveiling of its US solar investment came amid a three-day state visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that included dinner at the White House with President Joe Biden and a speech before a joint session of Congress, a relatively rare privilege for a foreign leader.
Bilateral ties are arguably at their peak since India’s independence in 1947. Biden calls India an “indispensable partner,”a fast-growing global economy that the administration believes can play a key role in lessening US dependence on clean energy and other supply chains in China.
Vikram is based in Calcutta and is among the largest solar module makers in India with about 3.5GW capacity. After dipping into the US market last decade with several small supply deals, in September it announced a 350MW contract with a “leading independent power producer.”