Top 5 American solar panel manufacturers in 2023
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Until recently, the majority of photovoltaic solar panels sold in the United States weren’t actually made here. However, events of the past several years have resulted in the expansion of some U.S.-based manufacturers and the building of new U.S. facilities by large Asian solar companies.
Steep tariffs on foreign-made solar materials imposed in 2012 and 2018 (and extended in 2022) kept inexpensive Chinese solar panels on a roughly even playing field with American products. Now, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has turbo-charged the U.S. solar manufacturing sector. Several gigawatts of new solar production capacity will be built in the country over the next several years.
American-made solar panels may not always come from American companies, but they are built by American workers. Here’s more information about five of the biggest, best companies that make solar panels in the USA.
|Company||USA location(s)||Current USA manufacturing capacity||Top-performing solar panel|
|First Solar||Ohio, Alabama||2.4 GW||Series 7 TR1|
|Qcells||Georgia||1.7 GW||Q. PEAK DUO BLK ML-G10+|
|Silfab Solar||Washington||800 MW||Elite SIL-380|
|Jinko Solar||Florida||400 MW||EAGLE 72HM G5b|
|Mission Solar||Texas||300 MW||MSE PERC 66|
Currently the largest manufacturer of solar modules in the United States, First Solar mostly makes CdTe thin-film products aimed at the utility-scale sector. FirstSolar is famous for its commitment to recycling its old products and for booking orders of well over ten times its annual production capacity.
First Solar is working on expanding its already large facilities in Ohio and is also building a new plant in Alabama. The company also said it plans to work with SunPower on a new tandem solar panel for homes that could reach the market by 2024. The “tandem”, in this case, refers to a layer of specially-tuned CdTe thin film placed on top of traditional crystalline silicon solar cells.
Qcells (formerly Hanwha Q CELLS), which was founded in 1999, is a subsidiary of South Korea-based Hanwha Solutions with a regional headquarters office in Irvine, California. It currently supplies more residential solar panels in the U.S. than any other company.
The Tier 1 company currently operates a 1.7 gigawatt (GW) solar panel manufacturing plant in Dalton, Georgia, that began production in February 2019. In 2022 and 2023, the company announced an investment of $2.5 billion in plans to expand its solar business in a multitude of ways. The end goal of that expansion is to create a fully domestic solar supply chain, from raw poly-silicon production to the manufacturing of solar silicon wafers, solar cells, and finally, modules.
Based on the quality and value of its high-performance mono PERC solar panels and its commitment to the U.S. market, Qcells leads the SolarReviews rankings of the top 10 solar panel manufacturers for the residential market.
Silfab Solar is a privately-held solar company based in Ontario, but the company actually has more employees in the United States. In the U.S., the company manufactures solar panels at two facilities in Washington with a combined manufacturing capacity of 800 megawatts (MW).
In 2023, Silfab introduced its latest Elite series solar panel, which uses an innovative conductive backsheet to channel power from the solar cells, rather than wire busbars that can reduce power output. The company also announced plans to begin manufacturing its own solar cells in a new facility it plans to build in South Carolina.
In response to 2018 tariffs filed under President Trump, Shanghai-based Jinko Solar opened a 400-MW solar panel manufacturing plant in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2019. The Florida plant is important to serve the U.S. market but represents a small portion of the company’s 70+ GW worldwide manufacturing capacity.
Jinko has yet to announce plans to expand its manufacturing base in the United States. Still, the company may be inspired to do so in the near future, as its Chinese rival LONGi has announced plans to build a 5 GW solar module factory in Ohio.
Mission Solar has been manufacturing solar panels in San Antonio, Texas, since 2014. A subsidiary of a Korean company called OCI, Mission now assembles 300 MW of solar panels each year. By its 10-year anniversary in 2024, it plans to have expanded to 1 GW of annual manufacturing capacity in Texas.
Mission’s current products utilize p-type monocrystalline PERC solar cells. These products offer acceptable performance and are certified to standard regulations for reliability. Still, they don’t rise to the levels of efficiency seen among their competitors' products, and the company hasn't yet adopted newer technologies like half-cut solar cells and cell shingling that offer increased efficiency in the same area.
In August 2022, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which introduced the Section 45X Advanced Manufacturing Production Tax Credit (45X MPTC) and expanded the Section 48C Advanced Energy Project Investment Tax Credit (48C ITC). These programs provide economic incentives to manufacture solar materials in the United States.
The 45X MPTC provides tax credits to manufacturers that make clean energy components like solar panels, and the 48C ITC provides tax credits for the purchase and commissioning of property that will be used for manufacturing. Manufacturers of solar components can choose to receive tax credits under one—but not both—of these programs.
In addition to the manufacturing tax credits, the IRA included a 10% bonus investment tax credit under section 48D for installations that use “domestic content.” This provides additional demand from solar installers for products made by U.S. companies.
Since the passage of the ITC, several solar companies have announced plans to expand or build new facilities in the United States. In addition to the announcements from First Solar, Qcells, LONGi, and Silfab covered in the sections above, companies like REC Silicon, JA Solar, and Hounen have also announced major U.S. manufacturing facilities.
Due to the IRA and some forward-thinking companies, the future of American solar manufacturing is bright.
As homeowners shop for solar, they are nearly as likely to be offered American-made panels than products from anywhere else. Soon, so many solar panels will be made in the U.S. that it may become uncommon to see imported products on the market.