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Qcells Invests $2.5 Billion in Building Complete Solar Supply Chain in U.S.

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Qcells will invest more than $2.5 billion to build a complete solar supply chain in the United States. The company’s commitment to the clean energy economy in America will create nearly 2,500 direct jobs in Georgia. The announcement marks the largest investment in the history of American solar and sets Qcells up as the only company in the U.S. to establish a fully-integrated, silicon-based solar supply chain from raw material to finished panel.
Qcells Invests $2.5 Billion in Building Complete Solar Supply Chain in U.S.
Artist's rendering courtesy of Qcells

In the first quarter of 2023, Qcells will break ground on a new, state-of-the-art facility in Bartow County, Georgia that will manufacture 3.3 gigawatts (GW) of solar ingots, wafers, cells, and finished panels, respectively. The Company will also assemble an additional 2 GW of solar panels at its Dalton, Georgia facility, which is the largest solar panel manufacturing plant in the Western Hemisphere. The investment is expected to bring Qcells’ total solar panel production capacity in Georgia to 8.4-gigawatt by 2024.

The announcement, made by Qcells’ parent company Hanwha Solutions, headquartered in Seoul, represents its largest clean energy investment to date in the U.S. and beyond. With this, the company aims to accelerate the United States’ renewable energy transition and domestic manufacturing expansion amidst the country’s push for Made-in-American clean energy solutions.

“As demand for clean energy continues to grow nationally, we’re ready to put thousands of people to work creating fully American Made and sustainable solar solutions, from raw material to finished panels,” said Justin Lee, CEO of Qcells. “We are committed to working with our customers as well as national and Georgia state leaders to bring completely clean energy to millions of people across the country.”

Qcells opened its first factory in Georgia in 2019 and hired 750 people to manufacture 1.7 GW of solar. As the nation's demand for solar grew, so did Qcells investment in its Dalton facility. Last year, it announced a plan to add 1.4 GW to its manufacturing output and hire 535 more people. Today’s announcement means Qcells will hire an additional 510 people in Dalton, bringing Qcells’ total employment in Georgia to 4,000 and accumulated investment in the state to $2.8 billion. With this, Qcells will help Georgia strengthen its position as a manufacturing hub and set the state up to be a global leader in solar.

"I am honored to announce the growth of Qcells in Georgia for a second time in less than a year," said Governor Brian Kemp. "With a focus on innovation and technology, Georgia continues to set itself apart as the No. 1 state for business. Combined with our robust logistics infrastructure, top-ranked workforce training program, and collaborative approach, Georgia provides a business-friendly environment that means jobs for hardworking Georgians in every corner of the state and success for both existing and new companies. We're excited for Qcells' continued success in the Peach State."

Qcells investments across the full solar value chain follow the passage of the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act within the Inflation Reduction Act. This new investment on the federal level is critical to providing certainty for investors to go bold on clean energy. The demand for American-made solar panels is increasing rapidly driven by the efforts to ensure energy independence, and Qcells’ domestic manufacturing expansion will fulfill the growing need for these clean energy solutions.

“By building out a strong, reliable solar supply chain in America, we will tackle the climate crisis head-on while also creating good paying, manufacturing jobs right here at home,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Thanks to President Biden’s historic clean energy investments, we will continue to see game-changing announcements like today’s being made across the country for years to come – unlocking the next era of American energy leadership and accelerating our transition to an equitable, clean energy future.”

“My goal remains to make Georgia the world leader in advanced energy production. That's why, working closely with Qcells, I wrote and passed major legislation to bring more solar manufacturing jobs to our state. Now we are announcing the largest clean energy manufacturing project in American history, with thousands of solar jobs and billions of dollars on the way to Georgia,” said Senator Jon Ossoff.

“I’m proud to have helped lead the fight to make Georgia a top state for good-paying, clean energy jobs,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “This announcement comes after months of close collaboration with Qcells, Senate leadership, and the Administration to make the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act a reality. I look forward to a continued partnership with Qcells to create Georgia jobs and grow our manufacturing economy.”

These investments will also ensure Qcells maintains its leadership in the U.S. solar market. According to the Q4 2022 U.S. PV Leaderboard report from Wood Mackenzie as of the third quarter 2022, Qcells has topped the U.S. residential solar module market for five years running, from 2018 to 2022, and has also been the leading module provider for the U.S. commercial sector since 2019. The investment will pave the way for Qcells to continue its leadership as a major supplier and developer of utility solar projects.

Qcells Solar Supply Chain Plan

The investments will occur at two sites with a greenfield expansion encompassing ingots, wafers, cells, and more modules. With 3.3 GW annual manufacturing capacity per value chain, this will be the largest fully integrated solar manufacturing site in the U.S. Qcells aims to begin commercial production there in late 2024. The site will be located in Cartersville, Georgia – about 55 miles outside of Atlanta.

The build-out will come after the company’s expansion of annual solar panel production to 5.1 GW in Dalton, Georgia by 2023. It will come from building a third module manufacturing facility at that location producing an additional 2-GW of solar panels per year. Currently, Qcells is operating a 1.7 GW module factory there and began construction to increase the facility to 3.1 GW earlier in 2022.

As part of this effort, Hanwha recently became the leading shareholder in polysilicon producer REC Silicon. Efforts are also underway to manufacture low-carbon polysilicon at the Norway-headquartered company’s factory in Moses Lake, Washington, which is powered by emission-free hydroelectricity. That facility will restart production in the second half of 2023.

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