ARKANSAS, Oct 12 (Future Headlines)- Suniva, the U.S. solar manufacturer that previously advocated for tariffs on imported solar panels, has announced that it will reopen its cell factory in Georgia next year, thanks to incentives provided by President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. This decision marks a significant turning point for the company, which filed for bankruptcy six years ago and struggled to compete with low-priced solar panel imports, primarily from China.
Suniva is set to resume the production of solar cells, the fundamental components of solar panels, at its Norcross, Georgia facility starting in the spring of the next year. The factory will initially have a production capacity of 1 gigawatt per year, equivalent to powering around 173,000 homes, with plans for expansion. During the first phase, the factory is expected to create up to 240 jobs.
The company’s president, Matt Card, mentioned that Suniva is currently engaged in advanced negotiations with several potential customers and anticipates contracting most of its supply before the factory reopens next year. Furthermore, Suniva secured a $110 million financing commitment from New York investment fund Orion Infrastructure Capital (OIC) earlier this year to support its expansion efforts.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which was enacted last year, aims to stimulate domestic manufacturing of clean energy equipment by providing subsidies for solar production within the United States. Specifically, projects that incorporate panels containing domestically-produced solar cells will be eligible for an IRA tax credit, equal to 10% of the facility’s cost for using American-made equipment. This tax credit complements the existing 30% tax credit for renewable energy facilities.
Suniva’s decision to revive its Georgia facility and start solar cell production is partly attributed to the incentives offered by the IRA. This development aligns with the Biden administration’s climate and clean energy goals, indicating its role in advancing the domestic solar industry.
Solar tariffs were first imposed by the Trump administration in 2018 as a response to Suniva’s appeal, a move that has garnered criticism from solar project developers who argue that these tariffs have impeded the growth of the solar industry in the United States. President Biden has made some adjustments to these tariffs but has retained them.
Card acknowledges that while the tariffs have had a positive impact on U.S. panel production over the last five years, the IRA’s subsidies have now made it feasible for Suniva to resume solar cell production.
In a broader context, this announcement is part of a broader trend of solar manufacturing companies establishing or expanding operations in the U.S. Italy’s Enel and South Korea’s Hanwha have also recently unveiled plans to set up solar cell manufacturing facilities in the United States, signifying a resurgence of domestic solar production.
John Podesta, a White House senior advisor on clean energy policy, remarked that Suniva’s decision to reopen its factory underscores the Inflation Reduction Act’s potential to reshape the American solar industry. After a period of dormancy during the prior administration, the Biden administration’s policies have contributed to the revitalization of this plant, exemplifying the law’s influence on the solar manufacturing landscape.
Reporting by Kevin Wood; Editing by Sarah White