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Politico: A Georgia solar factory shows the promise — and peril — of Biden's new industrial policy

Posted by Gavin Bade on Jan 2, 2022

Politico Pro outlined the manufacturing implications of Washington's latest energy plans, citing AEE's Nat Kreamer on domestic manufacturing growth. Read snippets below and the full article here

DALTON, Ga. — Tucked in the back of a nondescript industrial park in north Georgia, a factory sits as a symbol of what the Biden administration hopes will come from America’s new, bipartisan experiment with industrial policy.

Here, 700 workers at Hanwha Q Cells churn out more than 10,000 solar panels a day. It’s the largest operation of its kind on the continent...

If President Joe Biden has his way, the factory will also be a harbinger of America’s economic future. The U.S. will need more than 100 assembly plants of Q Cells' size to produce enough panels to power Biden’s energy goals, which envision solar providing 40 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2035, or ten times its share today. And that’s to say nothing of the metals and technological components that make up the solar panels — all of which Democrats hope to push companies to produce stateside as well.

To do that, the White House is pinning its hopes on a combination of tariffs, trade restrictions on Chinese solar technology, and massive tax breaks in the Democrats’ stalled reconciliation package that would amount to the most expensive industrial policy since the New Deal...

Even as they support the manufacturing tax breaks, companies that develop and install solar projects strongly oppose other elements of energy protectionism, like the continued tariffs on imported panels, which they say could slow their deployment of solar energy critical to Biden’s climate goals...

“They're going to scale up and they’re going to say, ‘How can I make the most automated factory possible?’” said Nat Kreamer, CEO of Advanced Energy Economy, another developer trade group. “They’re still going to employ a bunch of folks, but it’s not going to be one American [worker] for every worker in China because of the AI investment.”

Read the full article here

Topics: Federal Policy, PowerSuite in the News