Georgia’s U.S. senators, governor trumpet major expansion by solar panel maker QCells

Qcells first broke ground on its Dalton site in 2019 and expanded again last year. The company is planning a third facility in Dalton and a new plant in Bartow County. Photo courtesy of the governor’s office (2019 file photo)

Solar panel manufacturer Qcells plans to expand its Dalton plant – again – and build a new facility in Cartersville, which state leaders say is a $2.5 billion investment that will bring new 2,500 jobs to Georgia.

It’s also the latest in a string of high-profile green energy projects planned for the state.

The South Korean company plans to build a third facility in Dalton, where it opened the largest solar panel manufacturing facility in the Western Hemisphere in 2019. The fast-growing operation already expanded once last year.

The new site in Bartow County will employ 2,000 workers and manufacture 3.3 gigawatts of solar ingots, wafters, cells and finished panels. Qcells, which is owned by South Korea-based Hanwha Solutions, plans to break ground soon in the coming months.

“We are seeking to further expand our low-carbon solar investments as we lead the industry towards fully American-made clean energy solutions,” Qcells CEO Justin Lee said in a statement. “Today’s news is further evidence of our growing partnership with Georgia, the workforce there, and an even brighter future together.”

U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock said the planned expansion in Georgia would create the first complete solar supply chain in North America. Both attributed the announcement to the tax incentives they proposed that were ultimately included in the Inflation Reduction Act last year.

Ossoff hailed the announcement as “the largest clean energy manufacturing project in American history.”

When finished, the project is set to grow Qcells’ workforce to more than 4,000 workers and bring its total solar panel production capacity in Georgia to 8.4 gigawatts by 2024.

“I am honored to announce the growth of Qcells in Georgia for a second time in less than a year,” Gov. Brian Kemp said in a statement.

He attributed the project to the state’s logistics infrastructure, workforce training program and a business-friendly environment that “means jobs for hardworking Georgians in every corner of the state and success for both existing and new companies.”