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Canada's Silfab to set up solar cell factory in South Carolina

(Reuters) - Canada's Silfab Solar on Tuesday said it will invest $150 million in a new solar cell manufacturing plant in South Carolina, expanding its U.S. operations to the East Coast.

The announcement makes Silfab the latest solar equipment maker to commit to new U.S. production since passage last year of President Joe Biden's Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The landmark law incentivizes domestic manufacturing of clean energy components with tax credits for both producers and buyers.

Silfab said the new facility in Fort Mill, South Carolina will create 800 jobs and begin operations in the third quarter of 2024.

It will be capable of producing 2 gigawatts (GW) of cells and 1.2 GW of modules annually, a company spokesperson said, representing a large expansion of its operations. Silfab currently has a total of 1.6 GW of manufacturing capacity at two U.S. factories in Washington state and one in Toronto.

Silfab said it chose the location, in a suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina, for its skilled workforce, quality of life and "commitment to innovation."

"Silfab Solar's investment in South Carolina strengthens our North America manufacturing capabilities, creates good-paying jobs and provides the ideal East Coast location to serve our growing customers," Chief Executive Paolo Maccario said in a statement.

To qualify for a bonus 10% tax credit under the IRA, 40% of the cost of a project's components must be made in the United States. Cells, the building blocks of solar panels, make up a large piece of that puzzle. There is no current U.S. supply of polysilicon-based cells.

Italy's Enel, Canada's Heliene and South Korea's Hanwha have also announced plans to set up solar cell manufacturing in the United States in recent months.

Silfab is backed by Canadian private equity firm ARC Financial Corp.

(This story has been refiled to fix typos in spellings of 'Canada' and 'gigawatts' in paragraphs 1 and 4)

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Aurora Ellis)