Aug 31, 2022 - News

Georgia's solar win tucked inside the federal spending package

Illustration of a solar panel shaped like the state of Georgia.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Tucked inside the $740 billion federal tax, climate and health care bill that became law this month was a major win for American solar manufacturing with a deep Georgia connection.

Driving the news: The package included a bill sponsored by Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) that will implement new tax credits to boost the solar manufacturing supply chain.

Why it matters: Right now, the U.S. is "nearly entirely dependent on imported products to satisfy its needs in this critical sector, and this bill changes that," said Scott Moscowitz, head of market strategy and public affairs at Qcells.

Be smart: The South Korean company’s Dalton, Ga. facility is the largest solar panel manufacturer in the U.S., Moscowitz said.

The big picture: The U.S. simply does not make several key components of the solar panel supply chain. Meanwhile, China’s share in all crucial manufacturing stages exceeds 80% and is projected to reach 95% soon, according to a recent report from the IEA.

Status quo: Prior to this bill, there were no sustained and long-term domestic federal incentives for solar manufacturing specifically, Moscowitz said. "It really completely changes the environment for manufacturing clean energy products in the U.S."

What's happening: As a result of the bill, Qcells has already announced plans for "a multiphase, multibillion-dollar investment across the full solar energy supply chain," including parts that are not yet made in the U.S. They're in the site exploration phase for those new facilities now, he said.

Meanwhile, other manufacturers including Mayer Berger and just yesterday First Solar have announced new investments in the wake of the new law—including, for First Solar, a new facility in the southeast.

  • The incentives "delivered precisely the durable industrial policy foundation that we've long advocated for," First Solar spokesman Reuven Proença told Axios.

What they're saying: "Solar technology is strategic technology. This is a national security issue. This is about American energy independence," Ossoff said at a press conference celebrating one of his biggest policy victories to date last week.

  • "As we transition toward greater and greater adoption of renewable and clean energy sources, we want that energy to be American-made," he said.

Details: The bill offers 10 years of incentives for every stage of the solar manufacturing supply chain, with targeted incentives for some of the parts not made in the U.S.

Zoom out: The solar industry has been hoping for something like this, "for forever," Moscowitz told Axios. "This bill is a huge deal."

  • A coalition of solar manufacturers advocating for the bill estimated that after passage the industry will see 18,000 new direct manufacturing jobs by 2025, and solar panels would be nearly 100% American-made by 2030.

What's next: The law's solar incentives kick off at the start of 2023.

Axios' Ben Geman contributed reporting.


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