A newly formed consortium of four US solar companies has committed to spending US$6 billion on purchasing 6-7GW of crystalline silicon solar modules every year to encourage the rapid scaling of domestic solar manufacturing in the US.
AES, Clearway Energy Group, Cypress Creek Renewables and D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments have formed the ‘US Solar Buyer Consortium’ and have launched a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) for qualified manufacturers that can commit to a long-term partnership to supply up to 7GW of solar modules per year starting from 2024.
The buying consortium will “encourage a stable, domestic supply chain for solar modules,” AES said in a statement, adding that the on-shoring of a robust PV supply chain was crucial to the US’ solar sector and had the potential to create hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country.
“The consortium has a large and growing pipeline of solar projects in the United States, and we are committed to supporting America’s clean energy transition,” said Andrés Gluski, AES president and CEO.
It was unclear from the initial announcement whether the consortium will demand a wholly US supply chain or whether it is more focused on US module assembly. Following a PV Tech request for clarification, an AES spokesperson said “the goal is to have all components made in America.”
While the US is starting to see more polysilicon facilities established domestically, production capacity levels are far below what is necessary to support an entirely US-made solar supply chain big enough to serve the whole US solar market. And leading solar manufacturers have implored the government to implement tax credits and other financial incentives to stimulate domestic PV manufacturing.
“Today’s announcement from the consortium is just one step toward bolstering America’s solar supply chain,” said Craig Cornelius, CEO of Clearway Energy Group. “With legislation pending before Congress, policymakers can scale our domestic manufacturing workforce and restore our country’s legacy as a manufacturing leader.”
“This is exactly the kind of market signal needed to drive capacity expansion in the US,” said Michael Parr, executive director at The Ultra Low Carbon Solar Alliance, a staunch supporter of developing a strong US PV supply chain.
When asked which US module makers currently had the capacity to land a deal with the consortium, Parr told PV Tech that “First Solar, Q CELLS, Meyer Burger, Maxeon and Heliene are all in the mix.”