One of the world’s largest solar panel makers announced Thursday, confirming that it would invest $171 million to expand its plant in Dalton, Georgia, and create 470 additional jobs in Whitfield County.
Korean solar panel maker Hanwha Qcells, which already employs 750 workers at its 200,000 square foot factory built three years ago in the Carbondale business park in Dalton, said that by the summer of 2023 it will will produce 1.4 gigawatts of solar modules per year. with the next generation TOPCon cells from Qcells.
“Our additional investment in Dalton will help Qcells better meet the needs of US customers with increased local manufacturing capacity,” Qcells CEO Justin Lee said in a plant expansion announcement in Dalton. “Georgia has become the heartland of clean energy manufacturing in America, and we are proud to contribute to the state’s advanced manufacturing economy.”
Located near the company’s existing 1.7 GW plant in Dalton, the plant addition will bring Qcells’ total capacity in the United States to 3.1 GW, equivalent to one-third of the country’s solar module manufacturing capacity. Groundbreaking is scheduled for the fall of 2022 and operations are expected to begin in the first half of 2023.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp welcomed the additional Korean investment.
“The State of Georgia and Korea have enjoyed an exceptional partnership for decades, underpinned by a dedication to building relationships,” Kemp said. “I am grateful that the Qcells facility will ensure Whitfield County remains a hub for manufacturing as we continue to prioritize creating jobs and opportunity in all parts of our state, including including our rural communities.”
This investment is part of efforts by Qcells and other solar panel manufacturers to improve the solar supply chain in the United States. In March, Qcells’ parent company, Hanwha Solutions, became the largest shareholder in US polysilicon maker REC Silicon to ensure a reliable supply of the raw material essential for making solar panels.
“There is no doubt that we are seeing the revival of the solar panel manufacturing industry in the United States, and Qcells is a pioneer in this movement,” Pat Wilson, Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development of the United States, said Thursday. Georgia, in a statement. “In 2019, the company opened its state-of-the-art factory in Dalton, which eventually became the largest solar panel manufacturing plant in the Western Hemisphere. Today, we celebrate not only the successes of the past, but also the future that Qcells brings by expanding their footprint in Georgia.
U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff, D-Georgia, also applauded the new investment and pledged to work “to make Georgia a global leader in renewable energy innovation and manufacturing.”
The U.S. solar industry, which is striving to expand renewable energy generation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit climate change, faces major headwinds with supply delays and interruptions in obtaining equipment for the new solar generation.
The Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group based in Washington, D.C., said more than 315 solar projects have been delayed or canceled and solar installation for 2022 and 2023 could be nearly cut in half due to string issues. procurement and concerns about the investigation being launched. by the US Department of Commerce.
The delays push back major solar installations planned by TVA and Georgia Power Co., among others. TVA Chairman Jeff Lyash told TVA’s board of directors earlier this month that TVA has experienced setbacks in the development of new solar panels.
“Some of our projects have been delayed for up to a year in commissioning due to solar panel availability issues,” he said.
Amid the shortage of supplies, Lyash said costs have also jumped up to 50% for some supplies.
“We have to face that reality,” Lyash said, noting that some projects won’t go live as quickly as originally planned.
Georgia Power recently announced that nearly 1,000 megawatts of planned solar installations are now delayed for a year as supply chain issues slow the company’s transition to renewable energy.
“Solar power generation has increased 20% in the United States in 2021,” Jevin Jensen, chairman of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners, said in a statement Thursday. “We are delighted to partner with Qcells again for this major expansion, which will strengthen our contribution to the growing renewable energy sector and continue to diversify our strong manufacturing base in Whitfield County.
Qcells said it would hire for positions in engineering, finance, production and related functions. Interested individuals can find out more about working at Qcells by searching for Qcells, Dalton on indeed.com.