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US solar consortium to buy up to 7 GW of panels annually from 2024


Group aims to support domestic supply chains

Up to 365 MW solar PV projects awarded in New York

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Several US solar companies said June 21 they plan to spend over $6 billion to purchase 6 GW to 7 GW of solar modules annually starting in 2024 to support domestic supply chains. Separately, CS Energy said it has secured three utility-scale solar PV projects totaling 365 MW DC in New York.

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Independent power producers, AES Corporation, Clearway Energy Group, Cypress Creek Renewables, and D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments formed the "US Solar Buyer Consortium" to support expansion of the domestic solar supply chain and drive growth in the US solar industry, according to an emailed statement.

AES led the consortium's formation, according to a separate statement, that said the buyer's group wants to purchase more than $6 billion of solar panels and is looking for manufacturers aligned with the consortium's goals that can supply up to 7 GW of solar modules per year starting from 2024.

The move comes amidst increasing focus from the US government to strengthen the country's energy security by reducing its "supply chain reliance on competing nations," AES said.

Solar power advocates applauded the Biden administration's June 6 decision aimed at boosting domestic production of solar panel components while offering temporary relief from a trade restriction, calling the move a reprieve for an industry hit by a recent federal investigation into solar modules from several nations in Southeast Asia.

President Joe Biden waived duties for two years to allow US solar developers to purchase their solar modules and cells from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam, helping the US source solar components while growing domestic production. The US Department of Commerce launched an investigation earlier this year into whether such solar panel components from those four nations circumvented the Obama-era tariffs on Chinese solar products. That ongoing investigation effectively halted imports from the nations.

"Today, some of America's top solar developers have come together to do our part to help attract investments into US solar manufacturing," Andrés Gluski, AES President and CEO, said in the statement.

"It is crucial, however, that the US government creates a realistic, long-term policy framework that supports onshoring more of our solar panel supply chain without unnecessarily disrupting the growth and success of our sector," Gluski said.

AES said it has a large backlog of US solar projects, including 3.4 GW of new projects coming online from 2022 to 2025, out of a total backlog of 10.3 GW across all geographies and technologies. In 2021, AES signed contracts for 5 GW of power purchase agreements for renewable energy, including 1.4 GW for US solar projects, the company said in the statement.

While the White House's recently announced 24-month bridge for certain solar imports and actions to support domestic manufacturing are a large step towards addressing supply chain challenges, the consortium said it recognizes that more needs to be done to build upon the industry's progress towards providing lower-cost, reliable, clean power in the US.

AES estimates that with favorable policies in place, the US solar industry has the potential to provide 40% of the nation's electricity and employ as many as 1.5 million people by 2035.

New York projects awarded

CS Energy, an integrated energy firm, said June 21 that it has been awarded three utility-scale solar projects from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority under its fifth annual Renewable Energy Standard request for proposals.

Once operational, the projects would deliver 270 MW AC / 365 MW DC of incremental renewable energy generation capacity to the state, according to a statement.

Construction is planned to begin in 2025 and will be completed in 2026, CS said.

The following CS Energy projects will deploy single-axis tracking technology and bifacial solar panels:

  • Stern Solar: 19.99 MW AC / 27 MW DC in Schaghticoke, Rensselaer County
  • York Run Solar: 90 MW AC / 122 MW DC in Busti and Kiantone, Chautauqua County
  • Yellow Barn Solar: 160 MW AC / 216 MW DC in Lansing and Groton, Tompkins County

With the addition of 22 projects from this year's NYSERDA solicitation, NYSERDA's large-scale renewables program will provide 8 GW of solar energy, increasing New York's renewable energy mix to 66% when combined with New York's contracted land-based wind and offshore wind projects currently under development, the statement said.