U.S. solar company GAF Energy to open Texas manufacturing plant

Martin DeBono, president of GAF Energy, holds the world's first nailable solar shingle during CES Unveiled, a media preview event, at CES 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 3, 2022. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/File Photo

July 19 (Reuters) - U.S. solar company GAF Energy will open a new factory in Texas to produce its residential solar roof shingles domestically rather than in Asia, it said on Tuesday.

The announcement comes amid growing U.S. concerns about the reliance on Chinese-made solar products of an industry considered critical to meeting the nation's climate change goals.

In the last two years, panel supplies in the United States have faced major disruptions due to pandemic-related supply chain turmoil, import tariff threats and increased border scrutiny.

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GAF Energy said it was building a $100 million facility in Georgetown, Texas, that will bring its domestic production capacity to 300 megawatts annually, up from 50 MW today. The company's existing facility is in San Jose, California, where it is headquartered.

The new facility will employ 260 people, GAF President Martin DeBono said in an interview, and will start production in the fourth quarter of next year. The company will receive $3.24 million in local incentives.

GAF is among a small number of companies, including Tesla Inc (TSLA.O), producing next-generation technology that integrates solar panels with roof shingles.

In an interview, DeBono said his company's confidence in setting up a factory domestically stemmed from the fact that it offers something different from the overseas-made panels that dominate the market.

"You can't expect to make the same thing as everybody else in the world and be successful in a business, especially in a business as competitive as solar," DeBono said.

GAF is a unit of privately-held conglomerate Standard Industries.

The announcement came a few days after the collapse of climate legislation in Congress that included subsidies for domestic solar panel output. DeBono said his company had not been banking on those incentives because "it's political. It can go away as quickly as it comes."

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Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Aurora Ellis

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