5B eyes Australian expansion as work on Indian production plant begins

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Australian modular solar systems company 5B has begun building a new manufacturing hub in India in partnership with Waaree Renewable Technologies, one of that country’s biggest renewable energy EPCs and a subsidiary of Waaree Group, India’s largest solar module manufacturer.

The facility will produce 5B’s fully prefabricated “plug-and-play” Maverick PV system. The ground-mounted solar solution comprises up to 90 pre-wired PV panels that are fitted to frames that can be unfolded accordion style. The frames come preassembled on composite steel-concrete beams that replace conventional mounting structures, allowing for rapid installation on site.

The Indian facility is expected to be operational in the second half of 2024 and the parties said it has the potential to scale up to the gigawatt level.

5B Chief Executive Officer David Griffin said the partnership with Waaree will strengthen the company’s position in the surging Indian solar market and also establishes a Unites States-compliant supply chain for international markets but said it remains committed to manufacturing in Australia.

Griffin said the India plant “complements 5B’s Centre of Excellence in Adelaide and broader existing global supply chain to ensure we can deliver competitive solutions for customers and EPC partners in key markets.”

The company, with headquarters and a research and development facility in Sydney, has an established manufacturing base in South Australia and Griffin said there is potential expansion opportunities for 5B’s Adelaide Manufacturing Centre of Excellence, leveraging its skilled workforce and specialised local supply chain.

Griffin said the Adelaide facility, which has been assembling panels shipped from China into Maverick arrays, will continue to have an important role to play in the company’s ongoing expansion and product development.

“Maintaining full operational control of a manufacturing environment is necessary for production validation, iteration, and quality assurance for each product release, this is the remit of the Adelaide team,” he said.

“And as 5B develops its manufacturing processes and equipment, Adelaide remains a key development ground for its technology.”

5B’s Head of Production at Adelaide, Claude Dagescy (left), and Lalit Kumar Singh, the company’s India Regional Operations Manager, oversee construction of the 5B-Waaree manufacturing plant in India.

Image: 5B

The start of construction on the manufacturing facility in India comes after 5B landed its largest single order yet, securing a deal to supply 70 MW of its Maverick solution for a still-to-be-identified project in the US.

While commercial details of the deal remain confidential, 5B did share that the order includes approximately 1,400 Maverick arrays, containing more than 125,000 modules.

These arrays will be manufactured in the new Indian factory and delivered to the US. Deployment is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2024.

In addition to giving 5B a foothold in one of the biggest solar markets, and satisfying the US government’s efforts to diversify supply chains away from China, Griffin said the collaboration with Waaree will also allow for the direct integrating of module manufacturing with Maverick manufacturing.

The facility is being built near Waaree’s existing module manufacturing plant in Chikhli, allowing for 5B to co-optimise products as well as provide a large reduction in shipping and packaging waste.

5B had deployed more than 140 MW of its Maverick solution worldwide, with projects in Australia, Europe, Asia, South America and the United States.

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