Italy's Enel SpA (ENEI.MI) said on Monday it will invest more than $1 billion in a solar cell and panel factory in Oklahoma, seeking to capitalize on the U.S. push to build a homegrown clean energy manufacturing sector to compete with China.
The facility will be among the largest to produce solar equipment in the United States, where most projects are built with imported panels. It is also one of the first U.S. factories to produce silicon-based solar cells on a large scale.
The investment is one of the biggest in solar manufacturing since the passage of U.S. President Joe Biden's landmark climate change law, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), last year. Facilities built with panels containing domestically made cells may receive a lucrative IRA bonus tax credit worth 10% of a project's cost.
Enel, which had first said last year it planned to build a U.S. solar factory, selected a site in Inola, Oklahoma, near Tulsa. It will employ 1,000 people by 2025.
The facility will produce 3 gigawatts of solar products annually, with the first panels rolling off the line by the end of 2024. Eventually, production could double to 6 GW per year with an additional 900 jobs created, the company said.
Enel's U.S. manufacturing arm, 3Sun USA LLC, selected the 300-acre site in Oklahoma because it has water and power utilities and a workforce in the region that can immediately support its large factory. Speed is critical for manufacturers seeking to take advantage of IRA incentives that start to phase out at the end of this decade.
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