In a nationwide effort led by the big tech sector, numerous Georgia-based corporations are pushing for state lawmakers to further solar power production. This includes development and legislation, challenging many utility providers to keep up with increased demands. Major companies such as Meta, Amazon and Google, which require an almost seismic amount of energy to continue operating daily, are spearheading the corporate charge for solar energy expansion to reduce overall emissions and meet newly implemented environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) standards. Additionally, with the cost per solar panel at a record low, this recent surge in solar energy was all but inevitable.
A decade ago, corporate demands for solar energy, and the market with it, were controlled and determined by mostly big box retailers and other corporate entities with stores in need of rooftop panels and other solar devices. Today, things are vastly different when discussing the current state of energy, in both scale and intention. Major corporations, including the tech giants mentioned above, require an expansive network of off-site solar plants or wind farms that continually work to offset the massive amount of energy required to operate data centers, office buildings and factories efficiently.
In the Southern region of the U.S., where utilities such as coal or natural gas still reign supreme, this new shift in corporate demand for environmentally conscientious renewables could put a heavy strain on pre-existing power grids that require dire upgrades. With that, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russo-Ukraine War brought a bevy of supply chain issues that resulted in global trade disputes, further stalling future solar construction projects. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a national trade association dedicated to researching the solar industry, Georgia is the country’s eighth most populated state and is currently ranked seventh in total solar capacity required, with about 4,500 megawatts of solar energy needed to successfully power the state.
On January 11, Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp announced that Qcells, a globally recognized renewable energy solutions company, is prepared to invest roughly $2.5 billion to upgrade and expand solar module manufacturing networks around the state. “I am honored to announce the growth of Qcells in Georgia for a second time in less than a year. With a focus on innovation and technology, Georgia continues to set itself apart as the No. 1 state for business. Combined with our robust logistics infrastructure, top-ranked workforce training program and collaborative approach, Georgia provides a business-friendly environment that means jobs for hardworking Georgians in every corner of the state and success for both existing and new companies. We're excited for Qcells' continued success in the Peach State,” stated Kemp in a post on the official state website.
Additionally, Qcells and the State Energy Program (SEP) plan on building a new solar energy facility in Cartersville, which is expected to create more than 2,500 new jobs in northwest Georgia. State lawmakers and administrations on both sides of the aisle have long aimed to reduce outsourced energy reliance with hopes of bolstering domestic solar efforts. Slowly but surely, the Inflation Reduction Act, which offers an Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar, wind and other renewable energy facilities constructed before December 31, 2025, will attract the attention of future investors looking to compete with other corporate entities making the switch toward renewable energy.