Domestic Solar Manufacturing
In parallel with SEIA’s goal of solar comprising 30% of the U.S. electricity mix by 2030, we have also set a target of 100 GW of renewable energy manufacturing capacity, including 50 GW of solar manufacturing production, by 2030. There are multiple benefits to growing domestic renewable energy manufacturing, including creating jobs, spurring economic development, promoting U.S. leadership in advanced technologies and innovation, and ensuring an ethical and sustainable solar supply chain. Manufacturing investment also presents an opportunity for cost reduction and can also enable the U.S. to accelerate deployment and meet long-term climate goals.
This 100 GW target is designed to increase the U.S.’s ability to supply not only domestic solar energy projects but also export markets. The target also recognizes the benefits of an integrated global supply chain and an important role for imports. It is not intended to isolate U.S. renewable energy industries from the rest of the world, and it is important to recognize that tariffs are ineffective at incentivizing domestic manufacturing.
So how do we get there? It will require long-term federal investments and a suite of policy options designed to: (i) incentivize investments in manufacturing capacity; (ii) support ongoing factory production; and (iii) provide demand certainty. All three investments are essential.
We must also recognize that change will not happen overnight and that imports will continue to be necessary to meet our climate change goals.
SEIA’s recommended suite of federal investments includes:
- Access to low-cost capital, e.g., long-term, low interest loans (capacity);
- Incentives for investments in facilities and equipment, e.g., manufacturing tax credit (capacity);
- New, additional tax credit incentives for domestic production, e.g., linked to factory output or materials, labor, and overhead costs (production);
- Federal purchases of domestically produced equipment (demand); and
- Long-term extension of investment tax credit to provide demand certainty (demand).
SEIA’s target of 50 GW of annual solar energy manufacturing capacity by 2030 is not about picking winners or losers or favoring domestic products over imports. Rather, it is a recognition that a strong renewable energy manufacturing base is good for America’s national security and economic well-being.
Quick Facts on U.S. Solar Manufacturing
- Three large polysilicon plants in Michigan, Washington State and Tennessee can produce enough polysilicon to supply the entire U.S. solar industry at current levels. These facilities were underproducing or mothballed until recent action by the Biden Administration to jumpstart domestic manufacturing.
- The United States has enough solar module manufacturing capacity in places like Georgia, Ohio, Washington State, and Texas to fill 1/3 of its current deployment needs. With build times of 18-24 months, it is possible to rapidly scale module factories and production in the U.S. to meet growing demand.
- The metallurgical grade silicon industry that supplies the precursor to polysilicon is already operating in places like Ohio and West Virginia. If supportive policies are put in place, Alabama is poised to reopen a major plant as well.
- The U.S. steel and quartz mining industries can scale to meet the demand for millions of tons of materials used for solar component manufacturing.
To learn more about SEIA’s position on American Renewable Energy Manufacturing in the Solar+ Decade, please download our whitepaper.