The US’s first-ever complete solar supply chain is coming [update]


Seoul-headquartered PV solar-cell manufacturing giant Qcells will invest more than $2.5 billion to build a solar supply chain in Georgia – the largest-ever investment in clean energy manufacturing in the US to date.

March 23 update: Qcells today announced an additional $147 million investment through its solar supplier, Hanwha Advanced Materials Georgia, to expand solar manufacturing operations into Bartow County and create another 160 jobs, according to Senator Jon Ossoff’s (D-GA) press office.

The new plant, which will be the company’s third in Georgia, will become the only manufacturing plant in the US to produce solar ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA), the most commonly used encapsulant material. An encapsulant is used to provide adhesion between the PV module’s solar cells, the top surface, and the rear surface.

The $2.5 billion investment will expand Qcells’ solar manufacturing plant in Dalton, Georgia, and build a new solar manufacturing plant in Cartersville, Georgia — creating the US’s first-ever complete solar supply chain.

Qcells is the only company in the U.S. to establish a fully integrated, silicon-based solar supply chain from raw material to finished panel.

In the first quarter of 2023, Qcells will break ground on a new facility in Bartow County, Georgia, that will manufacture 3.3 gigawatts (GW) of solar ingots, wafers, cells, and finished panels, respectively.

Qcells will also assemble an additional 2 GW of solar panels at its Dalton, Georgia, facility – the largest solar panel manufacturing plant in the Western Hemisphere. Qcells will hire an additional 510 people in Dalton, bringing Qcells’ total employment in Georgia to 4,000 and accumulated investment in the state to $2.8 billion. 

Qcells opened its first factory in Georgia in 2019 and hired 750 people to manufacture 1.7 GW of solar. In 2021, it announced it would add 1.4 GW to its manufacturing output and hire 535 more people.

The investment is expected to bring Qcells’ total solar panel production capacity in Georgia to 8.4 GW by 2024.

In August 2021, the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act, which was introduced by Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA) became law. The law boosts manufacturing by providing tax credits for US manufacturers at every stage of the solar manufacturing supply chain.

Qcells CEO Justin Lee said in a statement:

We’ve worked closely with Senator Ossoff to get his solar manufacturing legislation signed into law, which helped make today’s historic investment possible. We look forward to continuing our close partnership with Senator Ossoff to create fully American-made and sustainable solar solutions, starting here in Georgia.

Electrek’s Take

This is a really big deal. Not only is it the largest investment in US clean energy manufacturing to date, a complete solar supply chain means that not one solar component will need to be imported. And for the US, that’s a first. Thank Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act for stimulating US domestic clean energy manufacturing.

Read more: Georgia gives US solar panel manufacturing a big boost with a new factory

Photo: Qcells

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