U.S. Manufacturers Are Helping Build Our Clean Energy Future
Friday, Oct 04 2019
Last week, SEIA laid out a bold vision for solar in the 2020s, unveiling the specific steps the industry will need to take for solar to reach 20% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030. We are calling this goal the Solar+ Decade, and to achieve it, we’ll need to add nearly 400 gigawatts (GW) of solar in the next 10 years and transform how we produce and generate electricity.
Installations at that scale will require unprecedented fabrication, from cells and modules to racking and inverters. As the national trade association representing the U.S. solar industry, SEIA believes firmly that this massive growth should be fueled by a strong supply chain here at home.
In honor of Manufacturing Day, we want to shine a light on the exciting manufacturing innovations happening here in the United States that support the entire solar industry.
Hemlock Semiconductor Operations (HSC) is a great example of the Solar+ Decade already at work. At its 350-acre campus in Hemlock, Michigan, HSC’s 1,500 employees and contractors churn out more high-purity polysilicon than any other manufacturer in America.
Polysilicon is a super pure form of silicon, one of the most abundant elements found in the Earth’s crust. This purity level is important because it enables solar cell and module manufacturers to create more advanced solar cells with higher efficiency levels. The higher the efficiency, the more electricity a solar cell can create.
At a 99.999999999% purity level, HSC’s employees help manufacture one of the purest substances on the planet. To put that into perspective, that level of purity is equivalent to allowing only one grain of sand inside 16 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The polysilicon produced by HSC is shipped to manufacturers around the world, and if you’re reading this blog on your phone, you’re probably holding some Hemlock polysilicon in your hand!
Multinational Companies Investing in the U.S.
Two recent news stories have demonstrated great promise for the U.S. solar manufacturing market.
Last February, Jinko Solar opened a brand module assembly plant in Jacksonville, Florida. The plant will produce 400 megawatts (MW) of annual production, making it the third-largest module factory in the U.S. More than 200 workers are powering the new facility, which is supporting the local economy and diversifying Jacksonville’s workforce.
Even more recently, Hanwha Q Cells opened a factory in Dalton, Georgia that will pump out 1.7 GW of modules annually, making it the largest solar manufacturing facility in the western hemisphere. These exciting investments by major players in the solar manufacturing space demonstrate the growth potential for domestic production.
Solar Builds America
As we more than double the U.S. solar workforce over the next decade, a strong manufacturing base will support well-paying jobs in communities across the country, as companies like Hemlock, Jinko and Hanwha have demonstrated.
We are already hard at work to build this future, starting with a first-of-its kind Summit focused on solar and clean energy manufacturing, taking place this November in Chicago. The Summit will bring together industry leaders, government officials and others to discuss the best methods for encouraging and supporting domestic manufacturing, and lessons we can take from other industries that have built strong U.S. supply chains.
Looking ahead, there is another clear way to boost U.S. manufacturing for solar, and that’s by creating long-term certainty and increased demand through policies like the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC).
The ITC is one of the most successful policies in history to encourage clean energy deployment, but it is scheduled to begin stepping down at the end of this year. SEIA is working hard to ensure this critical policy is protected, so we can continue the historic growth of solar in the U.S. and build on the American success story of domestic clean energy manufacturing.
Join our campaign to #DefendTheITC: www.seia.org/DefendTheITC
Read the roadmap to the Solar+ Decade: www.seia.org/roadmap