Roof-integrated solar company GAF Energy announced today that it will move all of its manufacturing from Asia to a facility in Silicon Valley. It’s a reversal of the solar industry trend of manufacturing solar panels in Asia due to lower labor costs.
US solar roof manufacturing
GAF Energy will shift both manufacturing and research and development to a leased 112,000-square-foot facility in San Jose, California (pictured above). It currently manufactures in both South Korea and the US.
The company is investing more than $50 million to renovate and adapt the facility, where it will employ “hundreds” of people, according to its press release. (PV magazine says “around 400 people in manufacturing, engineering, and research.”)
GAF Energy’s solar roof features panels integrated into the roof, thus avoiding drilling through the shingles. GAF Energy is part of Standard Industries and a sister company to roofing manufacturer GAF, the largest roofer in North America.
In March, Electrek spoke with GAF Energy’s CEO, Martin DeBono, about building-integrated solar. When we asked him whether it’s possible to develop a BIPV manufacturing industry based in the US that provides homeowners with a high-quality, affordable product, he replied:
Yes, it’s totally possible to develop a BIPV manufacturing industry in the US. I’d argue that it’s absolutely critical to grow the industry here, in fact. We’re manufacturing EVs here, we’re manufacturing energy storage and solar panels here. Manufacturing BIPV can be part of ensuring that America leads on clean energy.
Most PV is manufactured outside the country at present, with only 10 companies manufacturing solar in the US now. I think BIPV represents an opportunity. The BIPV product is a very high-quality product, and that’s something that US manufacturing does well.
I think it’s a fair bet to say that DeBono knew in March, when we spoke to him, that GAF Energy would be moving its manufacturing exclusively to the US.
In the big picture of solar manufacturing, GAF Energy won’t be able to produce anywhere near what solar manufacturers in Asia currently produce. But it’s a significant step for an American solar company to open a solar manufacturing center in Silicon Valley. Plus, putting manufacturing and R&D together in the same building is efficient.
The Biden administration is urging American companies to move away from relying on overseas manufacturing and create millions of US clean energy jobs. Indeed, that’s a key part of the American Jobs Plan. Biden is calling on Congress to invest more than $52 billion in domestic manufacturers.
Photo: GAF Energy
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