China’s JA Solar, the world’s fourth-largest solar panel maker by capacity, is going to open its first factory in the US – a major win for the Biden administration, which has created a domestic clean energy manufacturing growth boom with laws passed late last year.
Beijing-headquartered JA Solar has leased space in Phoenix to manufacture photovoltaic products – a $60 million investment.
The Arizona Commerce Authority said in an announcement that the facility is expected to be operational by fourth quarter 2023, and that the new US plant will create more than 600 jobs.
JA Solar says it will use “highly automated assembly lines to produce high-efficiency solar panels (PV modules) for commercial and residential rooftop applications, as well as for utility-scale solar power plant deployment.”
Once it’s fully up and running, the Phoenix factory will have an annual production capacity of 2 gigawatts (GW).
It’s been a very good week for US solar manufacturing announcements: Seoul-headquartered Qcells announced on January 11 that it’s going to manufacture 3.3 GW of solar ingots, wafers, cells, and finished panels in Bartow County, Georgia. It 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.
Add to that the announcement by First Solar in November 2022 that it’s going to open a fourth PV solar module factory in Alabama by 2025 with a planned annual capacity of 3.5 GW.
To put it all in perspective [via Bloomberg], “The US currently has 4.5 gigawatts of annual silicon panel production capacity, according to BloombergNEF data.”
So just these three projects alone – and there are more – more than double the United States’ current annual solar production capacity.
I also reported this week that China’s Trina Solar is going to open a factory in Vietnam in order to comply with US trade laws. Trina Solar was one of the Chinese solar companies preliminarily found by the US Department of Commerce to be attempting to dodge US tariffs by doing minor processing in Southeast Asian countries before shipping its solar products to the US.
The US solar industry has understandably been concerned that the DOC investigation and tariffs on Chinese solar would stifle solar component supply to the US in the short term as demand mushrooms.
But it’s apparent that in the longer term, the Biden administration’s tariff actions, along with the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, are going to stimulate US clean energy manufacturing growth.