Solar panel manufacturer expanding into Bartow County

Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023–9:26 a.m.

-Rome News-Tribune-

In the past 24 hours, the announcements keep getting better about solar energy manufacturer Qcells’ expansion in Northwest Georgia, including Bartow County.

The QCells facility in Dalton

The company plans an overall $2.5 billion investment which will see 2,500 jobs when operational.  Of those, 2,000 jobs will be coming to Cartersville/Bartow County. The other 510 jobs will be part of Qcell’s third facility near Dalton, joining one that opened in 2019 and a second due soon.

The Qcells releases come a month after plans for an electric vehicle battery plant with 3,500 jobs were announced at Bartow Centre off U.S. 411 on the Rome side of Cartersville. It is scheduled to be in service in 2025. The $4 billion to $5 billion EV battery plant in a partnership between SK On and Hyundai Motor Group.

Together, the solar/EV battery projects will boost Bartow County’s labor force by more than 10% with 5,500 additional jobs.

As of 6:30 a.m., two announcements had been sent: One from Gov. Brian Kemp’s office and a second from U.S. Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock, who is credited with some of the federal legislation assisting solar energy growth. Edited summaries of each follow.

From Kemp’s release: Qcells will construct a manufacturing facility at Highland 75 Corporate/Industrial Park off the interstate and Cassville White Road. It will manufacture 3.3 gigawatts of solar ingots, wafers, cells, and finished panels. Qcells expects to break ground before March 31. It will manufacture 3.3 gigawatts of solar ingots, wafers, cells, and finished panels.

“Our community is happy to welcome Qcells, and we appreciate their investment and bringing quality jobs to Cartersville,” said Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini. “The evolution of the solar energy industry continues to grow along with the worldwide desire for greener energy sources. It is an honor to have a leader in this field like Qcells to be manufacturing solar panels in Cartersville.”

Said Gov. Brian P. Kemp: “With a focus on innovation and technology, Georgia continues to set itself apart as the No. 1 state for business. Combined with our robust logistics infrastructure, top-ranked workforce training program, and collaborative approach, Georgia provides a business-friendly environment that means jobs” throughout the state.

Qcells manufactures high-performance, high-quality solar cells and modules, a portfolio of intelligent storage systems, and a growing international pipeline of large-scale renewable energy projects. Qcells also provides renewable electricity retail services and packages to global customers.

In 2019, Qcells opened the largest solar panel manufacturing facility in the Western Hemisphere in Dalton. The 1.7-gigawatt solar panel manufacturing facility has continued to expand since then and now supports more than 700 jobs in Whitfield County.

Between the Dalton and Cartersville projects, Qcells expects to increase the number of employees in Georgia to more than 4,000 by the end of 2024. These investments are expected to bring Qcells’ total solar panel production capacity in Georgia to 8.4 gigawatts by 2024. The company’s total investment in Georgia, including existing plants, will top $2.8 billion.

“With this investment, we’re proud to strengthen our U.S. manufacturing capabilities and create good-paying jobs,” said Qcells CEO Justin Lee. “We are seeking to further expand our low-carbon solar investments as we lead the industry toward fully American-made clean energy solutions. Today’s news is further evidence of our growing partnership with Georgia, the workforce there, and an even brighter future together.”

Added Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson. “Qcells has long been a pioneer in the solar industry, and it solidified Georgia’s place as a leader in renewable energy and sustainable technology when it cut the ribbon on the largest solar panel manufacturing facility in the Western Hemisphere in 2019.”

Director of Korean Investment Yoonie Kim represented the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Global Commerce team on these competitive projects in partnership with the Dalton-Whitfield Joint Development Authority, Bartow-Cartersville Joint Development Authority and Bartow-Cartersville Second Joint Development Authority, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Electric Membership Corporation and Georgia Quick Start.

From Warnock’s release: The Georgia Democrat says the Qcells announcement represents the largest investment ever in solar manufacturing in North America.

It comes after Warnock successfully shepherded his Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act into law as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. Qcells’ $2.5 billion investment will complete the first and only entirely domestic solar supply chain.

“I’m proud to have helped lead the fight to make Georgia the top state for good-paying, clean energy jobs,” said Warnock. “This announcement comes after months of close collaboration with Qcells, Senate Leadership, and the (Biden) administration to make the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act a reality. I look forward to a continued partnership with Qcells to create Georgia jobs and grow our manufacturing economy.”

Added Lee, Qcells’ CED: “Georgia could soon be the solar capital of the world, thanks in large part because of the continued support from Senator Warnock… (his) unwavering support is helping pave the way for countless new jobs, lower energy bills, and cleaner air.”

Warnock secured incentives for the federal government to power federal properties using American-made solar panels, which supports American jobs and manufacturers like Qcells.

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., in a separate statement, added: “My goal remains to make Georgia the world leader in advanced energy production. That’s why, working closely with Qcells, I wrote and passed major legislation to bring more solar manufacturing jobs to our state. Now we are announcing the largest clean energy manufacturing project in American history, with thousands of solar jobs and billions of dollars on the way to Georgia.”

This story is available through a news partnership with the Rome News-Tribune. More coverage can be found at northwestgeorgianews.com.

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