LG will build a 500-MW solar panel assembly plant in Alabama

LG Electronics today announced plans for a new solar module assembly plant in Huntsville, Alabama. The new factory will create about 160 new full-time jobs, increasing LG’s Huntsville employment by 60% to more than 400 workers. LG has had various operations, including customer service, on its 48-acre Huntsville campus for the last four decades.

The company will invest $28 million in a new factory with two production lines. Starting in 2019, the plant is expected to produce 500 MW of the NeON 2 series of 60-cell, 340-W modules annually. LG currently manufactures solar panels out of South Korea.

“This demonstrates our commitment to being a long-term leader in the U.S. solar industry. LG’s investment in U.S. manufacturing is consistent with the administration’s goal of creating U.S. jobs,” said Soon Kwon, global president of the LG B2B Company.

LG selected Alabama after conducting a competitive, multistate search. Attractive state and local incentives were key to LG’s decision to locate the new solar production operations in Huntsville. The company’s new solar module plant builds on LG’s legacy of leadership in Huntsville. After starting as the company’s first U.S. manufacturing subsidiary in 1981, Huntsville became the home of LG’s service division in 1987, which expanded over the years to support LG’s growing presence in the United States. Today, as the headquarters location for North American service operations, LG Huntsville includes the technical call center, service training center, field service operations and parts warehouse.

This news follows recent announcements of other foreign panel manufacturers investing in U.S. operations. China’s JinkoSolar will build a 400-MW plant in Florida and South Korea’s Hanwha Q CELLS is planning a 1.6-GW plant in Georgia. SunPower is also in the process of acquiring SolarWorld and its Oregon manufacturing plant.

In February, the U.S. federal government enacted 30% tariffs on imported solar modules. The tariffs were first requested as a way to safeguard U.S. manufacturing jobs and increase competition with foreign suppliers. Various foreign module manufacturers have since explored ways to get their panels to the United States without tariffs.

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