In this week’s Solar News Roundup, LG plans to open a new U.S.-based solar production facility, and state regulators in Florida release a promising report on the rapid growth of rooftop solar in the Sunshine State.
LG plans to open a solar module assembly plant in Alabama
LG publicly announced their decision to open a new module assembly facility in Huntsville, Alabama. Funded by a $28 million investment from LG, the plant is slated to open in early 2019 and will create around 160 new jobs. This follows a recent announcement from JinkoSolar, who also plans to open a U.S.-based solar plant to avoid tariff penalties.
“LG chose Huntsville as the place to do business in the U.S. more than 30 years ago, and they’ve chosen Huntsville again as a place to proper with the new solar module plant,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. LG already operates in Huntsville on a 48-acre campus, and the new factory will push the number of workers on campus to over 400.
LG will begin by producing panels from their high-performance, premium NeON 2 series. Once fully operational, the factory is expected to produce 500 megawatts (MW) of solar panels each year, adding up to more than one million individual panels per year.
As the manufacturer of some of the top solar panels available, LG’s decision to open this new plant may help protect American solar shoppers from feeling effects of the 30 percent import tariff on foreign solar modules and further solidify LG’s position as a competitive panel option for installations.
New report shows distributed generation in Florida doubled last year
Historically, Florida hasn’t been a top state for solar (despite its nickname.) But, recent changes in the state’s solar landscape indicate this may change. A new report released by the Florida Public Service Commission shows that the number of new distributed projects doubled in 2017 when compared to 2016, indicating an acceleration in the stubborn market.
Although Florida has the third highest state population, they are ranked eighth in the country for total solar deployment. This report states that 6,283 new distributed energy generation systems were connected to the grid in 2017, which is more than double the 2,982 systems that came online in 2016. Only 29 of the total customer-owned projects connected to the electric grid are wind projects, thus indicating that nearly all of this new growth is customer-owned, rooftop solar installations.
Utilities still control the vast majority of solar energy projects in Florida, but this new report may signal a shifting of the winds. Stories like this are a reminder of the ample opportunity and growth potential for solar markets across the country.