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Solar company considering a Buffalo plant wins big California contract

Solar Frontier, the Japanese solar panel manufacturer that is considering building a factory in Buffalo, has bolstered its U.S. business base by winning a contract to supply solar modules to a California-based solar systems developer.

The contract with Cypress Creek Renewables to supply panels for 150-megawatts of solar energy projects that the company is planning to build this year in five states, is a step forward in Solar Frontier’s efforts to build its U.S. business base, a step the company has considered essential as it considers whether to build a factory in America.

That site could be in Buffalo, although the company has not made any commitments, either to build a U.S. factory or where it might be located.

Solar Frontier, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of solar panels, signed an agreement in 2014 with state officials to explore the possibility of the manufacturer opening a solar module factory in Buffalo, while also setting up the company’s North American headquarters at the SUNY Polytechnic campus in Albany. Solar Frontier also supplied solar modules for a new, highly energy efficient building on the SUNY Polytechnic Institute campus in Albany.

The company completed a 150-megawatt solar panel factory in Japan last year and has been ramping up production there. Solar Frontier has said it views that plant as the blueprint for future solar panel factories that it might build outside Japan.

Under the 2014 agreement, the state and Solar Frontier established a three-phase program to evaluate the potential for the company expanding in New York. An initial feasibility study and the demonstration project were part of the first phase of that agreement, with the next step being a more extensive examination of the business and financial viability of a New York expansion.