Solarcycle to build $344M recycled solar glass plant in Georgia

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Dive Brief:

  • Solar panel recycling company Solarcycle is investing $344 million to establish a solar glass manufacturing facility in Cedartown, Georgia, the company announced Feb. 15.
  • The company will use recycled solar panels to produce five to six gigawatts of crystalline-silicon photovoltaics, or solar glass, annually, according to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
  • The site will create 600 jobs in manufacturing, engineering, research and other sectors. Construction is expected to begin later this year, with production slated to start in 2026, according to the governor’s press release.

Dive Insight:

The decommissioned solar glass will be used to make new panels before being sold back to domestic solar manufacturers as a way to fill a gap in the U.S. solar panel supply chain, according to Solarcycle’s press release.

“The solar panel manufacturers, what they do is they buy finished materials such as specialized solar glass or specialized frames,” Solarcycle CEO and cofounder Suvi Sharma told Waste Dive last year. “Today we supply into the raw material market, and then those materials get remanufactured into a final product that could go into the solar industry.”

Since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, Solarcycle has been raising funds to expand its U.S. presence as well as invest in its research and development. 

The company closed on a $30 million Series A funding last March to expand recycling capacity at its facility in Odessa, Texas. The Odessa site, which opened in 2022, will process Denmark-based Ørsted’s decommissioned solar panels in a June 2023 agreement.

The company also received a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Energy under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to fund its R&D on recovering metals and materials extracted from retired solar panels.

Since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, 44 solar manufacturing projects have been announced, according to environmental and economic advocacy group E2. The legislation’s push to grow photovoltaic production has driven demand for Solarcycle’s glass, cofounder and Chief Commercial Officer Jesse Simons told Manufacturing Dive in a Feb. 27 email.

“The customers who will buy SOLARCYCLE’s ultra-low carbon glass are building or expanding facilities in the US, and this expansion is largely driven by incentives and tail winds created by the Biden administration’s signature climate and clean energy and infrastructure bills,” Simons said.

One company taking advantage of the IRA is Qcells, Solarcycle’s newest customer. The company’s Cedartown solar glass facility won’t be far from Qcell’s two Georgia facilities in Dalton and Cartersville, which will supply panels for Solarcycle to reuse.

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