Senate Democrats ask Treasury to require American-made wafers for solar panel domestic content bonus


A group of U.S. Senators sent a letter yesterday to Sec. of the Treasury Janet Yellen asking for her department to reconfigure guidelines set forth in the Inflation Reduction Act to encourage silicon solar wafer manufacturing in the United States.

Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) led the group of Senators pressing the Biden Administration for this change. Ossoff was joined by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA).

Illustration showing the stages of creating silicon solar panels. Illustration by Al Hicks/NREL

The domestic content bonus credit within the Inflation Reduction Act provides an additional bonus credit to solar energy installers that use American-made products. In order for solar panels to qualify as “American-made,” the Treasury Dept. said the panels must use cells made in the United States. The group of senators is asking that solar panels not be considered American-made unless they use domestic wafers, taking the requirements one step backwards on the solar panel supply chain.

“In order to cultivate a strong domestic manufacturing industry, disrupt China’s dominance of the solar supply chain, and bolster U.S. energy and national security, it is essential that these critical solar energy components be manufactured in the United States. Your current guidance, which draws the line at the cell level, falls short of that important goal,” the Senators wrote in the letter.

Credit: Meyer Burger

Currently, there are no silicon solar cell or wafer manufacturers in the United States. Qcells in Georgia is building its own inclusive silicon ingot-wafer-cell-panel manufacturing facility and will likely be the first in the country to secure domestic silicon cells (and wafers). First Solar manufactures cadmium-telluride thin-film solar panels through a unique vapor deposition process that technically qualifies as wafer and cell manufacturing. As of today, only First Solar panels made in Ohio fully qualify for the domestic content bonus as-written.

The senators argue that the only way to break China’s dominance on the solar supply chain is to bring wafer manufacturing to the United States. Wafer development is largely concentrated in China and Southeast Asia by Chinese brands.

“It is imperative that any regulations or guidance be consistent with the legislative intent of Congress and send a strong signal that the United States prioritizes the development of a robust, lasting marketplace for American-made wafers and polysilicon. We stand committed to working with you to support U.S. workers, end China’s control of the solar market, and develop a strong domestic solar manufacturing industry to ensure U.S. energy security, economic development, and national security,” the senators concluded.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *