The latest white paper on solar and storage manufacturing by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) includes an interactive map. It demonstrates that momentum for a transformational expansion of domestic solar and storage manufacturing has begun to develop.
SEIA’s vision and objective is that by the end of this decade, the U.S. solar and energy storage industry will be the most competitive and collaborative in the world, with a workforce comprised of American employees and its allies.
SEIA points out that the move away from an over-reliance on imports for solar energy is beginning. SEIA highlights the commencement of the transition away from a reliance on imports for solar energy. And while we will not abandon global markets and supply networks entirely, the momentum will build to the point where we can reduce our reliance on other nations for solar and energy storage equipment and raw materials.
According to SEIA, the United States has the ability to produce many of the key elements of the solar industry, including metallurgical grade silicon, polysilicon, steel, aluminum, resins, racking and mountings, and other key materials. There is already a modest production capacity for modules, inverters, and detectors, as well as a limited domestic supply of specialty glass. Other elements, however, such as solar ingots, wafers, and cells, are almost wholly absent from the US supply chain.
The US Inflation Reduction Act offers numerous incentives for the expansion of US manufacturing, and it has effectively prompted a number of companies to declare their intention to establish domestic manufacturing facilities. Construction takes time, and for the next few years we will continue to rely on imports to sustain the energy transition’s rapid deployment of solar energy systems.
Currently, the largest source of solar cells and modules is Southeast Asia, which possesses the necessary compliance to underwrite warranties for products desired by US consumers. However, this means that the United States remains dependent on the assistance of other nations to sustain our energy transition. This poses risks, as evidenced by the supply chain difficulties Southeast Asian manufacturers have encountered in recent years. According to the SEIA, the most effective method for mitigating risks and constructing more resilient supply chains is to substantially expand domestic manufacturing.
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