Nextracker opens third US factory this year as part of PV reshoring commitment

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Nextracker said it had already procured over 100,000 tonnes of US made steel so far this year. Image: Nextracker.

US solar tracker manufacturer Nextracker and steel producer BCI Steel have reopened the Bethlehem steel manufacturing factory in Leetsdale, Pittsburgh that will process steel and produce solar tracker equipment for utility-scale solar projects.

This is Nextracker’s third new factory, adding to its Texas and Arizona factories announced in April and May, respectively. The company aims to establish 10GW of annual solar tracker capacity in the US amid growing calls for reshoring of the country’s PV supply chain.  

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A part of this “commitment to rebuilding America’s steel and solar supply chains”, Nextracker said it had already procured over 100,000 tonnes of US made steel so far this year, enough for roughly 5GW of solar trackers.  

The steel processing facility, which Nextracker said was ideally located next to key transport infrastructure, will contain BCI Steel’s new and reshored equipment from factories in Malaysia and Brazil and solar tracker products produced at the factory will serve solar markets in the US states of Pennsylvania, Indiana, New York, and Ohio.

Speaking with PV Tech prior to the announcement today, Nextracker president Howard Wenger said the investment would allow the company to “provide excellent on-time delivery to our customers” and gave it the “natural hedge for our global supply chain that will stabilise costs and prices”.  

The last year has seen the cost of raw materials rise and logistical challenges following the pandemic leading to delayed deliveries and soaring shipping costs, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine causing greater geopolitical tensions and further destabilising supply chains. This has lead to renewed calls to reshore manufacturing capacity in the US to help protect against future supply shocks.

When asked by PV Tech how exposed Nextracker’s supply chain was to ex-US shocks, Wenger said: “Our supply chain is in a very good position now that we are getting our third US manufacturing facility up and running… The need for local manufacturing and delivery is especially amplified in the context of macro disruptions like the pandemic and war in Ukraine. It’s early days for Nextracker’s US manufacturing initiative, but it is already paying off.”

“BCI Steel’s Pittsburgh factory enables the quick-ship response times we need to meet booming demand from our customers in the Mid-Atlantic and Heartland regions,” said Dan Shugar, CEO and founder of Nextracker. “This investment will increase the resilience of the US solar supply chain and bring manufacturing jobs, equipment and capacity back to America.” 

Moving forward, Nextracker said manufacturing incentives would accelerate the domestic development of key parts of the PV supply chain and accelerate PV deployment. “We think domestic manufacturing incentives could create and accelerate a strong US solar supply chain which would accomplish a number of the government’s goals,” said Wenger.

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