JinkoSolar confirms plans to invest $410 million in the US

JinkoSolar confirmed yesterday that its U.S. subsidiary will close the deal it has been negotiating with Jacksonville, Florida, under the code name “Project Volt”.

pv magazine reported last week that the mysterious company negotiating with Jacksonville was JinkoSolar, which according to City Council documents has pledged to invest $410 million to build a factory and its U.S. headquarters in the city.

The Chinese cell and module manufacturer tacked this information to the end of a press release announcing an agreement the company had signed with an unnamed U.S. company to provide 1.75 GW of high efficiency solar modules over approximately three years.

Although the company has not officially confirmed what it will be producing at the factory, the supply deal could offer some hints as to the size of the factory, as does the $410 million planned investment.

Additionally, the exception for 2.5 GW of cells in last week’s solar tariff announcement opens the doors for foreign PV manufacturers to invest in module factories, as current demand for cells from U.S. PV manufacturers is well below 2.5 GW.

Signs the deal could be close emerged last Tuesday, when the Jacksonville City Council approved its part of a reported $54 million incentive package – $23 million – to bring 800 new jobs to the city. The rest of the incentives and grants would come from the state, including grants for hiring veterans.

Jinko’s confirmation comes within days of an announcement from United Renewable Energy, the new company resulting from the merger of three Taiwanese cell giants, that it also plans to build a module factory in the United States.

In the documents supporting the City Council incentive resolution, the company says the average salary for workers at the new factory and headquarters would be nearly $46,000, which according to PayScale.com is on the upper end of most factory line worker jobs.

It should be noted, however, that it’s unclear whether Jinko’s number is distorted by executive salaries, as the factory will also be the company’s U.S. headquarters.

According to the city’s own calculations, it is paying $1,000 per job to bring JinkoSolar to the city.

Jinko has pledged to bring 400 jobs to the city by the end of the year, with the other 400 to be hired by December 31, 2019. Construction on the factory is slated to begin on June 30, and should be completed by the end of next year.