On January 22, 2018, a 30% tariff was levied on solar panel imports to the United States. International module manufacturers were quick to recognize the growth potential of the US market; consequently, a handful announced plans for new manufacturing facilities to come online. JinkoSolar, LG Solar, Hanwha Q CELLS, Silfab Solar, Panasonic, Sunpreme, and Mission Solar all either actively manufacture domestically or have plans to in the new year. Here’s a brief overview of US Module Manufacturing from top-tier brands carried by CivicSolar.
As one of the world’s largest module manufacturers (over 24 GW deployed globally), JinkoSolar was quick to act to the news of the tariff. JinkoSolar announced plans to build a 400-MW plant in Jacksonville, Florida. Moreover, Nigel Cockroft, the general manager for JinkoSolar U.S., informed customers in a holiday email that they expect a full ramp-up of module production by February. A majority of these modules will feed JinkoSolar’s 2.75-GW supply deal with NextEra Energy and a 1.43-GW contract with sPower. Nevertheless, a U.S. manufacturing presence from one of the world-leaders in module production bodes well for the future of domestic solar supply chains. The new facility will support 200 full-time employees.
LG Solar also announced plans for a new facility last year. LG will manufacturer it’s NeON 2 line of monocrystalline panels out of Huntsville, Alabama. Home of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Hunstville has traditionally attracted deep pools of high-tech employees. LG will gut a former color television manufacturing facility of theirs to accommodate solar panel machinery. They claim modules will begin shipping from Huntsville by the end of March.
Hanwha Q CELLS
The largest factory announcement came from Hanwha Q CELLS. Their 1.7 GW facility is being finalized in Whitfield County, Georgia. Hanwha Q CELLS will produce their Q.PEAK DUO modules and expect production to begin in Q1 this year.
Silfab bought Itek Energy’s 150-MW manufacturing plant in Washington last August in hopes of expanding their North American operation. Silfab is currently ramping up production in the Bellingham facility while also incorporating new DSM-affiliated manufacturing backsheets. At peak production, Silfab expects their facility to churn out 500 MW of modules.
Elon Musk’s Gigafactory 2 snagged headlines in 2017 upon completion due it’s size. The 1.2 million-square-foot facility in Buffalo, NY is owned by Tesla; however, Panasonic manufactures it’s HIT cells and modules in the facility as well.
Last year Sunpreme announced plans to open a Texas manufacturing facility this year. Sunpreme fully expects to reach a 400-MW capacity with this new facility. Sunpreme manufactures bifacial modules with Hybrid Cell Technology.
Lastly, Mission Solar announced it would double the capacity of its 200-MW facility in San Antonio, Texas. The module manufacturer continued to hire last year as it sought to keep up with its supply contract with PetersenDean Roofing & Solar.