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China Solar Firm Plans US Plant In Win For Biden Energy Push

(Bloomberg) —

A leading Chinese solar panel maker has leased space for its first US factory in another win for the Biden administration’s efforts to build up the nation’s clean energy manufacturing base.

JA Solar Technology Co. will build a $60 million panel plant in Phoenix with plans to be operational by the fourth quarter of this year, the company said in a press release issued by the Arizona Commerce Authority. 

The plant will be able to produce 2 gigawatts of panels a year once fully functional, it said. The US currently has 4.5 gigawatts of annual silicon panel production capacity, according to BloombergNEF data, although several new projects have been announced recently.

Beijing-based JA Solar is the world’s fourth-biggest panel maker by capacity, according to BNEF. The company is setting up the plant to provide US customers with flexibility and ease of access to its solar products, according to the press release. A spokesperson added that the project is still at an early stage and specific details will depend on future progress. 

Read more: Biden Push to Spur Solar Production Gets $2.5 Billion Boost

Chinese solar manufacturers dominate global panel production, but have been stymied from shipping to the US because of a series of trade disputes and allegations of human rights abuses. Some of the firms have moved to expand exports from plants in southeast Asia to navigate curbs on US trade.  

The US is trying to boost domestic clean energy manufacturing in its fight against climate change and to cut reliance on imported panels. President Joe Biden’s landmark climate law, the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes generous incentives for solar, battery and electric-vehicle manufacturing, has sparked a wave of new factory announcements, including a $2.5 billion expansion of solar manufacturing in Georgia that was announced this week. 

Biden’s policy extends to encouraging foreign firms — including China-based manufacturers — to set up facilities locally, which can support development of supply chains and deliver jobs.

(Updates with company comment in fourth paragraph.)

–With assistance from Brian Eckhouse.

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.


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