South Korea's Q CELLS to Open Georgia Solar Factory | Solar.com

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South Korea’s Q CELLS to Open Georgia Solar Factory

In the wake of US tariffs on non-domestic solar modules, Q CELLS is opening a solar module factory in Georgia.

The South Korean company announced its decision in May 2018 and will begin construction this year. The $150 million facilities, which is scheduled to be completed in 2019, has an estimated yearly production capacity of more than 1.6 GW.

A factory of this size could make it the largest solar manufacturing facility in America.

Q CELLS Solar Tangos with Tariffs

In January, President Trump announced a 30% tariff on all foreign produced solar modules.  Some lawmakers and industry stakeholders are working to reverse the legislation, but in the meantime, international solar module manufacturers must find a way to contend with the tariffs.

According to the company’s press release, the “new manufacturing fab is a testament to Q CELLS Korea’s commitment to the U.S. market, in spite of the recently imposed trade barriers.” Q CELLS already operates facilities in Malaysia, Korea, and The USA.

Modules assembled in the U.S., however, are not subject to solar tariffs. Building a facility in Georgia allows the Korean company to avoid price markups that make their modules less attractive to American buyers. Furthermore, there is a currently a 2.5 GW tariff exemption for foreign-made solar cells being imported into the U.S. Q CELLS is further reducing prices for their U.S. market by continuing to import foreign produced solar materials (up to 2.5 GW worth) that will only be assembled in Georgia, not produced.

After China, the U.S. is the largest solar module market in the world. Exclusion from American solar sales is thus a huge economic loss for Q CELLS. According to a press release, the new plant will help the Seoul-based company maintain access to traditional U.S. buyers and will also “enable Q CELLS Korea to widen its customer base in the U.S.” Because American markets value quality, Q CELLS believes that modules produced in the U.S. will appeal to a wider demographic.

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Q CELLS Q.PEAK DUO BLK-G5 300-320 module

500 or More Green Jobs for Dalton, Georgia

Q CELLS has chosen to build in Dalton, Georgia – a decision that will bring the town more than 500 jobs. “We are excited to bring our technology leadership to Georgia in manufacturing solar modules and look forward to building long-term relationships to further expand our manufacturing base and contribute to environmentally sustainable energy solutions,” said  James Choi, vice president of Q CELLS.

The company’s choice of Dalton, Georgia for the location of their solar module factory is not unusual. In fact, Korean-affiliated companies already run more than 80 facilities throughout the state. Governor Nathan Deal believes that Georgia is the best state in the country for business. As such, they offer “the skilled workforce and extensive manufacturing resources needed for Q CELLS Korea to maintain its competitive edge in the global solar industry.”

Q CELLS’ decision to open a facility in Georgia is a double win for Americans. Not only will it increase the number of jobs in Georgia, but it also helps to ensure lower prices and more module options for U.S. buyers. We’ll certainly be on the lookout to see if any other internationally owned solar companies decide to build in the U.S. or if legislation against the tariffs is successful.

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