Solar panel glass plant planned for Georgia 

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Solarcycle, a solar recycling specialist, recently signed a contract with Qcells to recycle its panels. Now the company is stepping into solar glass manufacturing, setting up shop in Georgia to generate 5 GW to 6 GW of solar glass a year.

The U.S. solar manufacturing supply chain is bolstered by new solar module entrants, but it has lagged behind in solar glass manufacturing. Solarcycle aims to change that by taking the circular and sustainable approach of recycling the glass from used or damaged panels to make new solar glass.

The company made the announcement alongside Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp, stating that Solarcycle’s $344 million investment will create more than 600 new full-time jobs in Polk County.

“Solarcycle’s first-of-its-kind facility is a transformational investment for the Polk County community and will help drive its economy for years to come,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “In Georgia, our strong energy mix is one of the key reasons our state has attracted generational investments in recent years. We will keep working to secure our power supply through exciting projects like this one.”

The glass plant, scheduled to begin construction in 2024 and to be operational in 2026, will be located in a Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development (GRAD) certified site in Cedartown. The company reports that the plant will be the first of its facilities to manufacture glass in addition to recycling solar panels.

Solarcycle operates solar recycling facilities in Odessa, Texas and Mesa, Arizona, and has long-term partnerships with more than forty of the largest solar companies in the U.S. to reuse and recycle their solar panels. The new glass facility in Georgia will position Solarcycle as one of the first manufacturers of specialized glass for crystalline-silicon (c-Si) photovoltaics in the U.S., the company reports.

Solarcycle recently inked a recycling deal with Qcells, a major manufacturer of solar modules, also with facilities in Georgia. While the Solarcycle glass announcement does not state that Qcells will be a customer, Qcells operates one of the largest solar manufacturing operations in the United States, with plans to expand production to 8.4 GW annually by the end of 2024.

“The United States’ landmark Inflation Reduction Act has spurred unprecedented levels of domestic manufacturing investments,” said Becca Jones-Albertus, Director of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, which has invested $1.5 million in Solarcycle’s research and development efforts. “We are excited to see U.S. solar companies expanding their footprint in the domestic solar supply chain and creating economic opportunities in their communities.”

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