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Enel to build 3 GW solar cell and module plant in the U.S.

The announcement is unique in that Enel plans to bring cell manufacturing to the U.S., most of which occurs in China.
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Enel North America has announced plans to build a 3 GW solar cell and module manufacturing plant in the U.S.

Site selection for the facility is now underway, Enel said. Construction is expected to begin in the first half of 2023 with commercial operations beginning by the end of 2024. The facility will have the ability to scale up to 6 GW of annual production capacity, the company said.

Enrico Viale, head of Enel North America, said incentives for domestic solar manufacturing in the Inflation Reduction Act "served as a catalyst" for the company's decision.

Currently, Enel North America's parent company, the multinational utility and energy developer Enel, has only a small solar manufacturing footprint globally. 3Sun operates a 200 MW solar manufacturing facility in Italy with plans to expand production capacity to 3 GW.

Enel plans to replicate the Italy production facility to produce bifacial heterojunction PV cells in the U.S., the company said.

The Factor This! podcast, recorded live from RE+ in Anaheim, analyzed the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act on domestic solar manufacturing. "The race is on to meet demand with made-in-America solar modules" featured Lightsourcebp Americas CEO Kevin Smith, Cypress Creek Renewables VP of Engineering Luke O'Dea, and Qcells North America Head of Market Strategy and Public Affairs Scott Moskowitz. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts!

Solar cell manufacturing comes to the U.S.

The announcement is the latest in a string of victories for domestic solar manufacturing since the Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law. But it's unique in that Enel plans to bring cell manufacturing to the U.S., nearly all of which occurs in China.

A recent report from the Ultra Low-Carbon Solar Alliance found that Chinese producers hold 83% of global capacity for polysilicon production, 96% for wafers, 79% for cells, and 70% for modules.

"It is our intention to bolster a robust domestic solar supply chain that accelerates and strengthens the US's transition to clean energy," Viale said.

The snowball effectFirst Solar's module manufacturing facility in Ohio (Courtesy: First Solar)

Enel's news comes less than a day after U.S. solar module manufacturer First Solar announced that it will build its $1.1 billion, 3.5 GWdc factory in Alabama.

The new factory is part of a previously announced investment in scaling First Solar’s American manufacturing footprint to more than 10 GWdc by 2025.

The planned factory in Lawrence County, west of Huntsville in the northern part of the state, is expected to be commissioned by 2025. It would join three factories in Ohio, including one that is scheduled to come online in the first half of 2023.

Qcells parent company Hanwha continues to search for locations for a new solar module manufacturing plant of its own. The company has promised a "multi-billion dollar" investment in the U.S. solar supply chain in response to the Inflation Reduction Act.

Ohio-based Toledo Solar plans to expand its domestic panel manufacturing capacity to reach 2.8 GW by 2027. The company manufactures Cadmium Telluride CdTe (“cad tell”) thin film solar panels and systems, with a supply chain sourced from North America. 

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