A Little Rock-based solar manufacturer Scenic Hill Solar On Thursday (Nov. 10), Made in America announced an initiative with several US-based solar array equipment manufacturers to promote the production of solar array components. The head of the company said that the new initiative is expected to lead to a $30 million solar plant project.
American Made, Arkansas Built is comprised of Scenic Hill Solar, solar inverter maker Yaskawa Solectria Solar, serial tracking technology company Nextracker, steel pipe maker Zekelman Industries and lithium-ion battery maker KORE Power Inc.
“We’re pushing for an American-led renewable energy system, starting in Arkansas,” said Bill Halter, CEO of Scenic Hill Solar. “The solar industry started in the US but then moved overseas. We are partnering with these leading companies to bring the industry back to America by focusing on innovation and collaboration between leading American manufacturers of solar equipment and batteries.”
The initiative with solar array equipment manufacturers is expected to lead to a $30 million solar plant project that includes battery storage, Halter said. He declined to provide further details as he is still working on the project.
The initiative is expected to encourage more manufacturing of solar array components in the U.S. and make the arrays better through partnerships with companies in the initiative, he said.
Participating companies will use the Scenic Hill Solar arrays as testing labs, demonstration facilities and collaboration opportunities, according to the news release. Halter noted that some of the arrays are existing facilities with company-supplied components, while others have yet to be built and will include company-supplied components. The arrays will work for Scenic Hill Solar customers.
“A vibrant base of renewable energy producers in the U.S. ensures greater energy independence, strengthens America’s national security, mitigates disruption to the global supply chain caused by COVID-19, and maximizes economic development opportunities for Americans with the rapid growth of renewable energy.” Halter said.
Scenic Hill Solar will purchase American-made components of its solar arrays when available; however, he said not all array components are American-made. But the initiative is expected to close gaps in the availability of US-made parts.
“As a leading US designer and manufacturer of PV inverters and other top-of-the-line components, Yaskawa Solectria Solar is proud to partner with Scenic Hill Solar,” said general manager Mark Goodreau. “We look forward to working closely with the Scenic Hill Solar team on the exciting opportunities ahead.”
Yaskawa Solectria Solar is a subsidiary of Lawrence, Mass.-based Yaskawa America Inc., with manufacturing facilities in Buffalo Grove, Ill., and Oak Creek, Wis.
“By opening three new factories in the United States this year, I can attest to the excellent manufacturing talent built in American cities,” said Nextracker CEO Dan Shugar. “We are on the cusp of a manufacturing renaissance in the United States, especially with the domestic manufacturing incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act. We are excited to partner with the American Made, Arkansas Built initiative, putting Americans to work to create products that safely power our homes and businesses for the future.”
Barry Zekelman, chairman and CEO of Zekelman Industries, said US-based companies must provide components for US solar infrastructure.
“With continued investment in existing and new factories, we are well positioned to support this initiative,” said Zekelman. “Blytheville, Ark., USA. and others, our new facilities are among the cleanest steel pipe and tube manufacturing facilities in the world and are ready to provide the highest quality steel torque pipe, screw piles and pipe stacks for utilities. solar installations”.
KORE Power is working on onshore battery cell production and commercialization of locally produced energy storage systems.
“This American-made, built-in-Arkansas initiative aligns with our vision for a local, clean energy supply chain,” said Jay Bellows, president of KORE Power. “We look forward to joining the next generation of America’s renewable energy companies working together to ensure a safe, clean and reliable energy future.”
Halter said he expects more companies to join the initiative and provide American-made products for projects associated with the initiative. He noted that US-based solar panel maker First Solar is a supporter of the initiative, but that it is not participating because the public company has raised concerns. He added that First Solar’s equipment will be used in the Scenic Hill Solar projects associated with the initiative, but supply is limited because the company has been sold for two years.
“At First Solar, we believe the nation’s energy transition can be powered by American ingenuity and innovation,” said Georges Antoine, First Solar’s chief commercial officer. “Scenic Hill’s effort to identify key elements of this internal value chain demonstrates that this potential can be realized.”