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Norwegian solar energy company plans $620M plant in Tulsa

Posted at 2:50 PM, Jun 25, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — A Norwegian solar energy company, NorSun, chose Tulsa International Airport for its first U.S.-based factory location.

They plan to invest $620 million into a new 5 GW silicon ingot and solar wafer manufacturing facility.

"They take a silicone raw material, and then they shape it into what's called an ingot," Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust Director of Real Estate and Economic Development Daniel Regan told 2 News via Zoom. "That ingot then gets sliced very thinly into what they call a wafer, and that wafer ultimately is what's gonna collect the sun's energy."

Regan, one of the main negotiators behind the plan, said past setbacks in bringing big companies to Green Country didn't get his team down.

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"You know, Oklahoma and even Tulsa - we aren't typically on the top of the list when people are looking nationally," Regan said. "But when you start to dig in on the economics of the project, it makes real clear sense."

Regan spoke from Washington, D.C. where he stood for the announcement alongside officials from NorSun, Oklahoma Department of Commerce, and Gov. Kevin Stitt.

Right now dozens of solar panel factories are being planned around the country, but almost none will produce the highly sought-after solar wafers. In other words, Regan said NorSun's Tulsa factory will be pretty unique with a high demand.

The company said the company's expansion to the U.S. is going create 320 new direct jobs in Green Country.

The facility will sit on 60 acres off of Mingo Road, and they plan to break ground in late 2024. It's expected to be finished in about two years.

“Our business plan has an ambitious timeline, so we knew we needed a partner who can work fast and efficiently to meet the critical need of American-made energy,” said NorSun CEO Erik Løkke-Øwre. “Oklahoma impressed us even before our selection journey – its robust clean energy, manufacturing ecosystem and workforce development programs were already on our radar, and its competitive business offerings and site acceleration options solidified our decision.”

The company said once production comes online 2026, the Oklahoma facility will be among the first in the U.S. to produce high-performing silicon ingots and wafers — currently the biggest bottleneck in having a fully domestic solar supply chain.

“I want to thank NorSun for their significant investment and support to add jobs in Tulsa and create further opportunity for industry needs across the globe,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “This project represents the work of so many and we are excited about the positive impact and direction this new development will have in Tulsa and the State of Oklahoma.”

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