Domestic manufacture of solar modules, trackers, inverters incentivized in Build Back Better


The Senate Finance Committee released its draft of the Build Back Better (BBB) infrastructure bill, and in it are up-front incentives for the domestic manufacturing of solar PV wafers, cells, modules, trackers, and inverters. Committee chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) is expected to lead conversations as the committee holds bipartisan meetings on the bill.

Included in the bill is an incentive for the manufacture of thin film PV or crystalline PV cells. The incentive would pay $0.04 per watt DC capacity of the cell. PV wafers would be offered $12 per square meter, and solar-grade polysilicon is offered $3 per kilogram U.S.-made solar modules are offered an incentive of $0.07 per watt.

Trackers have been added to the bill. Structural fasteners would qualify for $2.28 per kilogram, longitudinal purlins $0.87 per kilogram, and structural fasteners $2.28 per kilogram.

Inverters were also a new addition to BBB. Microinverters, with capacity of 650 W or less can receive $0.11 per watt, while other residential inverters with 20 kW capacity or less are offered $0.065 per watt. Commercial inverters that range between 20 kW and 170 kW would be eligible for an incentive of two cents per watt.

Utility-scale inverters with capacity between 170 kW and 1 MW of capacity would be offered an upfront incentive of $0.015/W if BBB is passed, and central inverters greater than 1 MW in capacity would be eligible for an incentive of $0.025/W.

The bill incentivizes the whole solar panel supply chain from solar-grade polysilicon to fully-assembled modules.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Incentives are viewed as a way to bring solar manufacturing back onshore. In a recent interview with pv magazine, module producer Maxeon said that it is considering a 3 GW cell production plant in the U.S., but is waiting on a Title XVII loan from the Department of Energy, and the passing of Sen. Jon Ossoff’s (D-GA) Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act. If passed, the company said it could begin producing cells in the U.S. as soon as 2023.

Ossoff’s bill would offer tax credits for several steps along the PV supply chain, including for the domestic manufacture of modules, cells, and solar-grade polysilicon, as well as trackers and inverters. The incentives would be available through 2028 with a phase-down over the following two years. On November 19th the bill was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, and it next faces review by the Senate.

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