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Hanwha Solutions making largest ever investment in U.S solar

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A solar power plant in Kern County, California, built by Hanwha Q Cells USA of Hanwha Solutions [HANWHA SOLUTIONS]
A solar power plant in Kern County, California, built by Hanwha Q Cells USA of Hanwha Solutions [HANWHA SOLUTIONS]

Hanwha Solutions is investing 3.2 trillion won ($2.57 billion) in solar manufacturing in the United States through next year.

It is the biggest solar investment in the United States ever, according to the solar cell manufacturer.

With the latest investments, Hanwha aims to reach a combined module production capacity of 8.4 gigawatts by 2024, from the current 1.7 gigawatts.

That is equivalent to the total amount of electricity that 1.3 million average U.S. households use in a year.

The plan is to source components and material locally, from polysilicon to solar modules, according to Hanwha Solutions.

“Hanwha Solutions will become the only company with all-encompassing solar manufacturing capabilities, from raw materials to finished products, in North America,” said Hanwha Q Cells CEO Lee Koo-yung during a press event Wednesday.

Hanwha Q Cells, the solar division Hanwha Solutions, has been running a 1.7-gigawatt solar module factory in Dalton, Georgia, since 2019.

The company announced last year that it will invest 200 billion won in expanding capacity at the Dalton factory by 1.4 gigawatts to a combined capacity of 3.1 gigawatts by 2023.

Hanwha will make additional investments in the factory to gain another 2-gigawatt production capacity by late this year.

The company plans to build a plant in Cartersville, Georgia.

It will produce 3.3 gigawatts of solar modules, as well as raw materials.

Solar modules consist of solar cells, which are based on wafers. Wafers are produced by thinly slicing polysilicon ingots.

At the Cartersville factory, Hanwha will produce ingots, wafers and cells. The goal is to begin commercial operation in 2024.

Hanwha is considering purchasing polysilicon from REC Silicon.

REC Silicon is a Norway-based silicon supplier that runs production plants in the United States. Hanwha Solutions acquired 16.67 percent of the Norwegian company for $160 million in 2021.

When construction is completed at both plants, Hanwha Solutions is expecting $875 million of tax benefits a year through the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

With the passing of the IRA in August last year, Hanwha Solutions has been pushing to strengthen its foothold in the country.

Under the IRA, domestically made solar modules attract a tax credit of 7 cents per watt. U.S.-made solar cells get a 4-cent tax credit per watt and ingots about 4.69 cents per watt. Wafers get a $12 credit for every square meter produced.

That adds up to a total of $875 million in tax credits a year, according to Hanwha Solutions.

Hanwha Q Cells USA, the company’s U.S. subsidiary, will establish a subsidiary dedicated to the project.

BY SHIN HA-NEE [shin.hanee@joongang.co.kr]

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