Debunking solar myths: All panels come from China

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‘Uncle Bob’ is that proverbial character who shares at family holidays all he believes to be true about solar and why it just isn’t a good idea. Dan Shugar, founder and CEO of Nextracker, has had this experience. Based on his 33 years in the solar industry, he offers short, fact-based responses to Uncle Bob’s assertions, which range from “solar is taking coal jobs to “solar is unreliable”. In this part one of the series, Shugar debunks the myth that “all those solar panels are made in China”.

Uncle Bob may have said at Thanksgiving dinner, “well, all these solar panels, they’re coming from China”.

How do you respond? “That’s wrong,” Shugar says. “You say I love you, Uncle Bob. But that’s not what’s happening.”

The facts are:

  • The largest manufacturer of solar panels for the United States is a U.S. company that was started over 20 years ago called First Solar and headquartered in Arizona.
  • Now in addition to First Solar, over 18 solar panel factories in the United States are manufacturing to meet U.S. demand.
  • After the Inflation Reduction Act legislation was passed in 2022, there have been over 50 new solar panel factory announcements, representing over $14 billion of investment.
  • Solar, by the way, was invented in the U.S. by Bell Labs in the 50s. And it’s great to see a resurgence of manufacturing activity in the United States.

Episode 1 

 

For more on domestic manufacturing, read How the IRA is changing the U.S. solar manufacturing landscape.

We’ll continue this series with fact-based responses to additional myths such as:  What about when the sun doesn’t shine? What about nuclear–that’s clean and reliable? And solar sounds great, but it’s too expensive. Right? Solar takes too much land. There’s gonna be no room for farms if we have solar panels.

Stay tuned as we unpack these objections, so you’re ready for next Thanksgiving dinner (or other dinner parties) with Uncle Bob.

Dan Shugar is founder and CEO of Nextracker. For over 30 years, he has been a leading voice in business, technology and climate policy, advancing solar and climate technology solutions in the U.S. and around the globe. He has numerous patents and published 50 technical papers. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of the American Clean Power Association (ACP) and the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA).

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect those held by pv magazine.

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