In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • If Congress provides tax credits for the solar industry, it could grow rapidly by 2035.
  • First Solar breaks ground on a $680 million, 3.3 GW solar factory in Ohio.
  • UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

US solar’s future

The Biden administration and the US Department of Energy yesterday released an Issue Brief on “solar energy research, deployment, and workforce priorities.”

The brief states:

According to preliminary results of an upcoming analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), to reach a largely decarbonized electricity sector by 2035, solar deployment would need to accelerate to three to four times faster than its current rate by 2030.

It also states that solar could supply more than 40% of US electricity by 2035 if Congress implements clean-energy-friendly policies, such as tax credits for solar farms and manufacturing facilities. Solar currently makes up 3% of US electricity.

Further, when it comes to job opportunities, it states:

A pathway to a largely decarbonized electricity sector by 2035 can add millions of new jobs across clean energy technologies, including potentially 500,000–1,500,000 people working in solar by 2035.

“Solar projects are currently eligible for a 26% tax credit that is in the process of being phased out. Biden has pushed for a 10-year extension, as well as new incentives for manufacturing solar components,” Reuters notes.

The Solar Energy Industries Association sent a statement to Electrek from its president and CEO, Abigail Ross Hopper:

The Biden administration’s report today on solar energy shows that with the right policies in place, solar will help tackle the climate crisis, build a strong US manufacturing sector and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. The Issue Brief clearly demonstrates the massive growth in solar over the last decade and charts a course for solar to grow market share and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

The report also makes it clear that meeting the Biden administration’s goal for a zero-emissions electricity grid will require billions of dollars of investment and market opportunities through 2050 across all clean energy generation, including energy storage, electricity delivery, operations and maintenance, as well as community solar and solar for low- and moderate-income communities.

President Biden also plans to extend the solar Investment Tax Credit, build US manufacturing, accelerate transmission and storage expansion and build diversity, equity, inclusion and justice goals into this transition to a clean energy economy. Good trade policy also will be critical to the president’s climate goals.

First Solar’s newest Ohio factory

US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh on a tour of a First Solar factory in Lake Township, Ohio, on August 17. Photo: First Solar

Tempe, Arizona-headquartered First Solar broke ground yesterday on its third factory in Ohio at a ceremony that was attended by US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh.

The new 3.3 gigawatt (GW), 1.8 million-square-foot, $680 million facility in Wood County, south of Toledo, is expected to open in the first half of 2023, near where First Solar’s two existing factories are already located. The company claims that the third factory will bump its total annual capacity up to 6 GW, thus making it the largest fully vertically integrated solar manufacturing complex outside of China.

The new factory is expected to create more than 700 permanent jobs and 500 construction jobs for union tradespeople over the next 18 months. Walsh said:

Not only does this facility advance innovative manufacturing for a sustainable future, First Solar is also investing in its workers through skills training, competitive pay, and robust benefits. Empowering all of America’s workers is how we’ll build back a better economy and win the future.

First Solar is the only US-headquartered company among the world’s 10 largest solar manufacturers. It does not manufacture in China and uses a fully integrated, continuous process under one roof. The company says that its “eco-efficient module technology, which uses its proprietary Cadmium Telluride (CadTel) semiconductor, has the lowest carbon and water footprints of any PV module available today.”

Read more: Toledo, Ohio, connects a solar farm with neighborhood reinvestment

Photo: Solar FlexRack in Utah

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