Saturday Dec 10, 2022

U.S. solar company plans panel factory in Panama to challenge Asia – Reuters

Solar installers from Baker Electric place solar panels on the roof of a residential home in Scripps Ranch, San Diego, California, U.S. October 14, 2016. Picture taken October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake

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July 26 (Reuters) – A small U.S. solar company with no manufacturing experience on Tuesday announced plans to open a solar panel factory in Panama to help the American industry reduce its reliance on Chinese-made goods.

Universal Solar America LLC, an Arizona company that helps solar project developers procure panels, said its planned facility will help U.S. companies avoid tariffs, shipping delays and other challenges that have scuttled a supply chain comprised primarily of products made in Asia.

About 90% of U.S. solar panels are made overseas, and that reliance on imports has wreaked havoc on the U.S. solar industry at a time when it is working to satisfy soaring demand from utilities and corporations worried about climate change.

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Though solar panels are assembled in several Asian countries, the industry’s raw material, polysilicon, is primarily produced in China and has been tied to concerns about forced labor in the Xinjiang region.

John Bereckis, Universal Solar’s chief executive, said he began investigating the possibility of opening a facility in Panama last year when the U.S. Commerce Department considered imposing tariffs on imports from Southeast Asian countries — throwing project developers’ plans into disarray.

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