On the heels of solar giant Qcells’ plans to open a massive new manufacturing facility in Cartersville, a supplier announced Thursday it will invest $147 million to build a plant just down the road to make critical parts for the company’s panels.
The new plant from Hanwha Advanced Materials Georgia (HAGA), is set to open in 2024 and create more than 160 jobs that will include engineering and manufacturing line operator positions, Gov. Brian Kemp’s office said in a release. HAGA and Qcells share the same parent company, the South Korea-based conglomerate Hanwha Group.
The HAGA plant will make a specialized film coating for Qcells panels that helps increase their long-term durability. Once online, the facility will be the only one in the U.S. making the material, Kemp’s office said.
The plant is a key part of Qcells’ plan to build the first fully-integrated solar manufacturing supply chain in the U.S. in Georgia, Qcells North America’s president HG Park said in a release.
“Qcells is doubling down on building a complete, domestic solar supply chain, and this recent investment is critical to making that happen,” Park said.
Earlier this year, Qcells’ announced it would spend $2.5 billion on a massive expansion of its Georgia production footprint and bring 2,500 jobs to the state. At the time, the company and federal and state officials billed it as the largest ever investment in clean energy manufacturing in U.S. history.
As part of that expansion, Qcells is building a brand new, 3.3-gigawatt plant in Cartersville about an hour northwest of Atlanta. The company broke ground on that facility earlier this year and the plant is set to open its production lines in 2024. At the same time, the company is working on expanding its existing factory in Dalton to add 2.1 gigawatts of additional capacity.
Once both projects are complete, Qcells will be able to produce 8.4 gigawatts of solar panels in Georgia, enough to meet the demands of roughly 30% of the solar installations currently planned around the country.
Qcells has said the passage of President Joe Biden’s signature climate change and health care law — known as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) — last year helped spur their new investment in Georgia. The votes of Georgia’s two Democratic U.S. senators — Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock — were key to the bill’s passage in a narrowly divided upper chamber, and Ossoff wrote several of the law’s solar provisions.
In a statement on HAGA’s plant, Biden connected the dots between the IRA and the new investment in Georgia. The IRA provides $10 billion in tax credits for building new solar manufacturing facilities, plus billions more for manufacturers to make components for solar panels, batteries, and wind turbines in the U.S., among a host of other clean energy incentives.
“With the support of Senators Warnock and Ossoff and Georgia House Democrats, clean energy manufacturing announcements in Georgia are creating thousands of good-paying jobs making solar panels and components here at home and tackling the climate crisis,” Biden said in a statement.
During Gov. Kemp’s tenure in office, Georgia has pitched itself as a major hub for clean energy and electric vehicle manufacturing projects. With generous incentive packages, the state has secured billions in investments from companies like Rivian, Hyundai Motor Group and SK Battery America — along with a constellation of suppliers — to build new plants and bring tens of thousands of jobs in Georgia.
In a statement, Kemp framed the arrival of Qcells’ new supplier as another sign of the state’s growth as a major clean energy player.
“Georgia is leading the nation in attracting next generation jobs,” Kemp said. “Since we first welcomed Qcells to our state in 2018, we’ve announced more than 4,000 related jobs for hardworking Georgians. We’re proud that Hanwha Advanced Materials is adding to that growing number as it becomes a valued member of the Bartow County community.”
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com