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National Solar
Jobs Census 2022

With expanded jobs data on energy storage
and other clean energy industries

July 2023

Clean Energy Manufacturing | Spotlight: Nextracker

Clean Energy Manufacturing

The U.S. solar manufacturing industry is poised for a sea change. As of now, the majority of solar modules, wafers, cells, and inverters are imported from four countries: Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam.1 Globally, the United States produces a small fraction of total manufacturing capacity and the market is dominated by China.2 The U.S. has a small module and inverter manufacturing base but does not produce any wafers or cells.

This heavy reliance on imports has left the industry vulnerable to supply chain delays and global political developments, leading to cost increases, project delays, and cancellations. For many in the industry, the market turmoil in 2022 has underscored the need to build a competitive domestic manufacturing base. 

With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the clean energy sector has the makings of a large-scale shift toward U.S.-based manufacturing. The law includes $30 billion for an advanced manufacturing production tax credit that supports new factories in the United States. It provides an additional 10% in tax credits for clean energy projects using domestic components.

As of 2022, total solar manufacturing employment was steady at 33,473 jobs, marking a 1% uptick from the previous year. Some of the solar manufacturing jobs are at domestic solar manufacturers, such as the First Solar thin film production facilities in Ohio or the Qcells manufacturing plant in Dalton, Georgia. However, most of the current jobs cover balance of system (BoS) components such as racking, trackers, and mounting systems, which are usually produced domestically. As a result, installation and project development firms report that 78% of their supply chain purchases come from within the United States. For manufacturing firms, however, nearly half their supplies came from overseas.3 

Since the IRA was signed in August 2022, there have been a flurry of announcements for new domestic manufacturing plants, including about 47 new or expanded clean energy facilities. In the solar industry, most of the announced facilities would produce modules, but a few would also manufacture other components such as wafers and cells. Some notable examples include:

  • Qcells will expand its Dalton campus and build a vertically integrated facility in Bartow County, Georgia. The new facility will produce the complete solar panel supply chain, including ingots, wafers, cells, and modules.4 This will bring the company’s total capacity from 1.7 GW to 8.4 GW by 2024.5
  • First Solar will expand its Ohio manufacturing capacity from 3 GW to 7.1 GW and build a new 3.5 GW facility in Alabama, bringing the company’s total manufacturing employment to over 3,000.6
  • Enel will build a solar panel and cell factory near Tulsa, Oklahoma that will begin at 3 GW and may ramp up to 6 GW, expected to create 1,000 permanent jobs by 2025.7
  • LONGi will partner with Invenergy to build a 5 GW facility in Ohio that is expected to create 850 jobs.8
Photo courtesy of Nextracker

The domestic solar supply chain now has a capacity of 11.4 GW for modules, and another 56.6 GW that are under construction, announced, or proposed expansions.9

Looking at other industries, battery storage had 13,600 manufacturing jobs in 2022.10 Recent energy storage announcements include an American Battery Factory facility in Tucson, Arizona; a FREYR gigafactory in Georgia; and a Pomega Energy Storage Technologies facility in South Carolina.11 Domestic battery storage capacity is at 15,790 MWh with another 371,210 MWh announced or under construction.12

Also in 2022, there were 23,543 manufacturing jobs in the wind energy industry. U.S. wind manufacturing capability declined sharply in recent years due to the general industry slowdown and the high cost of materials. Currently, most of the towers and nacelles in a wind turbine are manufactured in the U.S., while blades tend to be manufactured abroad.13 However, the incentives in the IRA mean the industry is poised for a comeback.14 New wind manufacturing plants will include a CS Wind facility in Pueblo, Colorado, and a reopened TPI Composites facility in Iowa.15

The end result could be a dramatic expansion of the clean energy domestic manufacturing base. However, it isn’t yet clear how many of the announced projects will come to fruition, or how fast. At least in the short run, it may be difficult for solar companies to receive the 10% domestic manufacturing tax credit, which requires domestic production of cells along with modules.16 Meanwhile, some manufacturers believe the provisions are too lax and need to expand to have a greater impact on the domestic market.17 

If these new manufacturing capabilities do pan out, analysts expect that U.S. solar module production capacity could more than double from 9 GW in 2022 to 25 GW in 2023.18 The solar industry predicts that manufacturing jobs could more than triple to reach 115,000 by 2030. Moreover, manufacturing has the highest jobs multiplier of any industry, bringing total manufacturing job growth to an estimated 507,000.19

Spotlight: Nextracker Goes Local to Increase U.S. Tracker Production

As the industry faced supply chain disruptions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the leading solar tracker company Nextracker made a strategic decision to increase its domestic manufacturing footprint. To that end, the company partnered with domestic steel firms to open several new U.S. factories, which will produce the torque tubes and other tracking components for delivery to utility-scale solar installation projects. 

Like other solar firms across the supply chain, Nextracker is turning to U.S. production in response to market pressures along with new policy incentives. Nextracker expects that its U.S. factories will also shorten delivery lead times, stabilize prices, reduce the company’s carbon footprint, and create new jobs. 

Nextracker’s approach is to build new factories in regions where there are clusters of pending solar installations. The goal is to minimize logistics hurdles by locating the facilities no more than a day’s drive away from the projects. 

In 2022, Nextracker joined BCI Steel to open a manufacturing facility in a renovated steel factory near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, supplied by U.S. Steel. This facility takes advantage of Pittsburgh’s historic place in the history of U.S. steel production and draws on the local workforce and knowledge base.

Photo courtesy of Nextracker

In Chicago and Harvey, Illinois, Nextracker opened manufacturing plants to support the pending 800 MW Double Black Diamond solar project by Swift Current, one of the largest in the country. Other new facilities include a plant in Phoenix, Arizona in partnership with Atkore; and, most recently, a factory in Memphis with MSS Steel Tubes to support Silicon Ranch projects throughout the Southeast.

A large portion of the steel will be developed using a method known as Electric Arc Furnace technology, which uses scrap metal and recycled products to produce steel using a small fraction of the carbon emissions compared to traditional methods. Steel production is a major contributor to global climate change, making up about 8% of global emissions.20 Shifting to this process helps companies meet sustainability goals and reduces production costs.

Nextracker’s goal is to build 10 GW of domestic solar tracking capacity. Since the passage of the IRA in August, other tracking companies have also announced expanded domestic manufacturing capacity. For example, PV Hardware is opening a 6 GW manufacturing facility in Texas, and FTC Solar is joining Taihua New Energy to build a facility outside of Houston.21 Array Technologies will supply U.S.-made trackers for a 321 MW project in Falls County, Texas.22


  1. David Feldman et. al, Spring 2023 Solar Industry Update.
  2. Eric Wesoff, The Inflation Reduction Act could revive solar manufacturing in the US, Canary Media (Aug. 12, 2022), https://www.canarymedia.com/articles/solar/could-the-inflation-reduction-act-revive-solar-manufacturing-in-the-u-s.
  3. Some of the purchases listed as coming from the United States could include those from domestic distributors who sourced their products overseas.
  4. Anne Fischer, Qcells announces $2.5 billion investment in U.S. solar supply chain, PV Magazine (Jan. 11, 2023), https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2023/01/11/qcells-announces-2-5-billion-investment-in-u-s-solar-supply-chain/.
  5. Wood Mackenzie/SEIA, US Solar Market Insight 2022 Year in Review.
  6. Anne Fischer, First Solar names Alabama as site for its fourth U.S. solar manufacturing facility, PV Magazine (Nov. 17, 2022), https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2022/11/17/first-solar-names-alabama-as-site-for-its-fourth-u-s-solar-manufacturing-facility/; Wood Mackenzie/SEIA, US Solar Market Insight 2022 Year in Review.
  7. Sean Murphy, Oklahoma lures Enel solar panel manufacturing facility with $180M incentive package, AP (May 22, 2023), https://apnews.com/article/enel-oklahoma-solar-panel-manufacturing-plant-inola-07d0c77496b0b0dc28647b9840828ab0.
  8. Kelly Pickerel, 5-GW LONGi solar panel factory is coming to Ohio, Solar Power World (Mar. 13, 2023), https://www.solarpowerworldonline.com/2023/03/5-gw-longi-solar-panel-factory-is-coming-to-ohio/
  9. Solar Energy Industries Association, Solar & Storage Supply Chain Dashboard, https://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-storage-supply-chain-dashboard (accessed July 2023). 
  10. For industries like batteries, the survey counts employees who spend 0-100% of their time in that industry. In contrast, solar jobs, including manufacturing jobs, include only those who spend 50-100% of their time on solar-related work.
  11. American Clean Power, Clean Energy Investing in America, (Apr.il 2023), https://cleanpower.org/resources/clean-energy-investing-in-america-report/
  12. Solar Energy Industries Association, Solar & Storage Supply Chain Dashboard.
  13. A nacelle is located on top of a wind tower and contains the gearbox, low- and high-speed shafts, generator, and brake. 
  14. Maria Gallucci, U.S. wind manufacturing makes a comeback thanks to Inflation Reduction Act, Canary Media (June 5, 2023), https://www.canarymedia.com/articles/clean-energy-manufacturing/us-wind-manufacturing-makes-a-comeback-thanks-to-inflation-reduction-act
  15. American Clean Power, Clean Energy Investing in America.
  16.  Lydia DePillis, Energy Tax Credits, Mean to Help U.S. Suppliers, May Be Hard to Get, New York Times (June 9, 2023), https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/09/business/economy/energy-tax-credits.html?searchResultPosition=1
  17. Jeff St. John, Manufacturing vs. deployment; The clean energy tax-credit conundrum, Canary Media (June 7, 2023), https://www.canarymedia.com/articles/clean-energy-manufacturing/manufacturing-vs-deployment-the-clean-energy-tax-credit-conundrum.
  18. Wood Mackenzie/SEIA, US Solar Market Insight 2022 Year in Review.
  19. Solar Energy Industries Association, American Solar and Storage Manufacturing Renaissance: Managing the transition away from China (Mar. 2023), https://www.seia.org/sites/default/files/2023-03/Manufacturing%20Reniassance%20Report%203-8-2023.pdf.
  20. Christian Hoffmann, Michel Van Hoey, and Benedikt Zeumer, Decarbonization challenge for steel, McKinsey & Company (June 3, 2020), https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/metals-and-mining/our-insights/decarbonization-challenge-for-steel
  21. Ryan Kennedy, PV Hardware to open 6 GW solar tracker factory in US, PV Magazine (Sept. 9, 2022), https://www.pv-magazine.com/2022/09/09/pv-hardware-to-open-6-gw-solar-tracker-factory-in-us/; Billy Ludt, FTC Solar expands solar tracker manufacturing with Texas factory, Solar Power World (Feb. 10, 2023), https://www.solarpowerworldonline.com/2023/02/ftc-solar-expands-solar-tracker-manufacturing-with-texas-factory/.
  22. Michael Schoeck, Utility to procure U.S.-made trackers for 321 MW Texas solar project, PV Magazine (Mar. 3 , 2023), https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2023/03/03/utility-to-procure-u-s-made-trackers-for-321-mw-texas-solar-project/.