According to the US Energy Information Administration's (EIA) most recent figures, of the roughly 27 million solar panels deployed nationally in 2021, only a minuscule 119,000 were made in America.
That amounts to a paltry 0.4%.
It also amounts to a lot of lost jobs and capital that would've done wonders for our economy if more of the solar panels deployed in the US were made here as well.
Of course, a trade imbalance this severe isn't going to be remedied overnight.
Still, of late, there have been encouraging signs.
Domestic manufacturing boom
Not one, not two, but three of the world's top solar panel manufacturers have all recently announced plans to construct facilities stateside.
Two of the firms, Trina Solar and Longi, are based in China. While the third manufacturer—-aptly named Canadian Solar—conducts their business from our neighbor to the north.
Trina and Canadian Solar will both be building their new facilities in Texas. Whereas Longi chose Ohio as home for its first US factory.
Each of the new facilities will have an annual production capacity of 5 Gigawatts (GW) , upping current US capacity by a total of 15 GW.
To put that in perspective, our current production capacity stands at only 8 GW—meaning these three new factories will increase domestic production by almost 300%.
On the finance side of things, each represents $200 million to $600 million in capital.
“Establishing this factory is a key milestone that will enable us to better serve our US customers with the most advanced technology in the industry”—Dr. Shawn Qu, founder and chief executive officer of Canadian Solar
American-made means American jobs
On the labor side of things:
Trina's facility is expected to create over 1,500 jobs in Texas
Likewise, Canadian Solar's Texas plant is also expected to employ at least 1,500
Longi's factory will bring more than 800 jobs to Ohio
“As someone who has lived in Texas for more than a decade, I’m proud to bring Trina’s first module factory in the Western Hemisphere to the Lone Star State”—Steven Zhu, president of Trina Solar US.
Even more facilities already in the works
But there's even more good news. These three new domestic manufacturing plants appear to be part of an emerging trend.
According to the Solar Energy Industries of America (SEIA)—after factoring in all the new facilities that are already under construction—total US solar production capacity will soon reach 58 GW, a 700% increase from where we stand today.
We obviously still have a long way to go.
But, if current trends continue, we'll soon see the day when American-made panels dominate the domestic market—bringing the nation as a whole closer to achieving the same kind of energy independence so many individuals have already achieved by going solar.