Chinese Solar Supplier Trina Plans $200 Million US Factory

Trina Solar Co. is planning a $200 million manufacturing facility in Texas, weeks after the US said the Chinese panel supplier was bypassing tariffs. 

The site will be able to make about 5 gigawatts of panels a year using polysilicon sourced in the US and Europe, according to a statement on Monday. Production is expected to begin in 2024. 

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President Joe Biden’s sweeping climate law, dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act, is spurring a boom in domestic solar manufacturing and luring international companies to establish facilities in the US to qualify for incentives. Trina’s announcement also comes as the Commerce Department steps up efforts to enforce trade policies on imported solar panels. Trina was one of five firms that were singled out last month for circumventing tariffs. 

Read More: US Probe Finds Asian Solar Makers Evading Tariffs on China

Trina is the latest Chinese solar giant to announce plans to build or expand factories in the US since the IRA was passed last year. The world’s largest solar company, Longi Green Energy Technology Co., is working with a US partner to build a factory in Ohio that’ll produce 5 gigawatts of panels a year, while JA Solar Technology Co. plans a 2-gigawatts facility in Arizona. Jinko Solar Co. has also won approval to expand its existing plant in Florida. 

“Trina’s goal in building this facility is to begin to create an ecosystem of American manufacturing that can serve the burgeoning US solar market,” Steven Zhu, president of Trina’s US unit, said in the statement. 

Chinese solar firms dominate global panel production, but have been stymied from shipping to the US because of a series of trade disputes and allegations of human rights abuses, which China has denied. Their foray into the US also comes as overcapacity threatens profitability in their home market.

As enticing as the US market is, relations between Washington and Beijing remain fragile and industry figures in China have raised fears over the treatment of its companies there. The scrutiny faced by battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. over its tie-up with Ford Motor Co. and federal raid in May on Jinko’s Florida facility have added to the concerns.

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