Suniva to reopen solar plant in Georgia, citing Biden climate law

Suniva, using a host of tax incentives, plans to reopen a factory in Norcross that it closed in 2017, the year it filed for bankruptcy after falling victim to plunging prices for solar power cells and a crush of cheaper Chinese-made solar imports.

Credit: SUNIVA

Credit: SUNIVA

Suniva, using a host of tax incentives, plans to reopen a factory in Norcross that it closed in 2017, the year it filed for bankruptcy after falling victim to plunging prices for solar power cells and a crush of cheaper Chinese-made solar imports.

Solar cell manufacturer Suniva plans to reopen a shuttered Norcross factory and create as many as 240 jobs amid a surge of new tax incentives aimed at shoring up the U.S. green energy manufacturing supply chain.

The company closed the factory and filed for bankruptcy in 2017 after falling victim to plunging prices for solar power cells and a crush of cheaper Chinese-made solar imports.

But now it stands to benefit from a wave of federal incentives and other tax breaks embedded in sweeping green energy measures signed into law by President Joe Biden and backed by U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

The company specifically cited a provision Ossoff pushed for in the Inflation Reduction Act, Biden’s signature climate change and health care law, that provides $10 billion in tax credits for firms to build solar manufacturing facilities.

“We look forward to engaging with our customers to satisfy their demand for a reliable source of U.S. made cells,” Suniva Chief Executive Cristiano Amoruso said.

Suniva had been growing rapidly since its 2007 founding at Georgia Tech — much of it with the help of millions in a mix of local, state and federal tax credits for new jobs, grants and property tax abatements.

But it stumbled six years ago as Chinese manufacturers vastly expanded their solar panel production, driving down prices. The company later jolted the solar industry by launching a fight over tariffs that some U.S. trade groups projected would drive up the cost of the panels.

Since then, the industry has transformed. Suniva’s announcement is among a wave of clean technology facilities growing across the Peach State. Qcells also recently launched its own expansion at several Georgia plants, and battery-makers are sprouting at mega-sites across the state.

Biden-backed legislation has spurred a flood of new investment in the production of energy technology, a critical business that’s only expected to grow as countries reduce their use of fossil fuels and the U.S. aims to chip away at China’s domination of the industry.

The Inflation Reduction Act provided billions to the solar industry. And a bipartisan infrastructure law ramped up incentives for green initiatives such as electric-vehicle manufacturing.

“This announcement shows the Inflation Reduction Act’s power in writing a new chapter for the American solar industry,” said John Podesta, a senior Biden adviser. “After closing during the last administration, Bidenomics is bringing this plant back to life.”

Meanwhile, Georgia has also heaped billions in tax breaks, infrastructure improvements and other inducements to recruit more green energy jobs to the state. Gov. Brian Kemp has long credited the state’s Republican-backed policies for drawing the industry to Georgia.

“They were going to get that anywhere in the country they went,” Kemp said of the federal incentives in a recent interview.

“They’d get them if they went to Texas, they’d get them if they went to Michigan, and they’d get them if they go to Georgia,” Kemp said. “The key is: Why are they coming to Georgia? Because we created the ecosystem for that well before the IRA passed.”

About the Author