Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

solar manufacturing usa maxeon new mexico
Bidenomics strikes again as Maxeon plans billion-dollar solar manufacturing plant in New Mexico.

Clean Power

Maxeon Picks Up US Solar Manufacturing Torch Dropped By Solyndra

Bidenomics strikes again as Maxeon plans billion-dollar solar manufacturing plant in New Mexico.

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Solar manufacturing is making a comeback in the US, and New Mexico could be the next state to partake in economy-boosting boom. If all goes according to plan, the solar manufacturer Maxeon will bring a new billion-dollar factory to New Mexico, towing up to 1,800 direct, permanent jobs in its wake. Part of the plan is an Energy Department loan from the same office that birthed the ever-enduring Solyndra talking point, so hold on to your hats.

New Mexico Sets The ESG Table For Domestic Solar Manufacturing Investment

The Republican governors and other top officials in 20 or so US states have been working the levers of power to thwart renewable energy investment and rail against ESG (environment, social, governance) principles.

New Mexico is not one of those states. In fact, if states could be a Barbie, New Mexico would be in contention for ESG Barbie.

The New Mexico State Investment Council formally adopted an ESG policy as part of its oversight of the State Investment Office in 2021. That action followed the closure of coal power plants and adoption of the state Energy Transition Act in 2019. This year, the state legislature is considering three pieces of legislation aimed at a massive shift in gears for the state energy policy as enshrined in the 1935 Oil and Gas Act.

“The bills would dramatically redirect the Oil and Gas Act, which was written to protect oil and gas resources for the state’s benefit, to include protecting the environment and the public, particularly marginalized communities,” explained reporter Jerry Redfern, writing for the non-profit news organization Capitol & Main.

As described by Redfern, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has not entirely abandoned the state’s oil and gas industry. However, her administration has overseen the implementation of new rules to cut emissions from oil and gas facilities, and her budget recommendations include a new Climate Change Bureau in the New Mexico Environment Department.

Maxeon Is Ready For Its US Solar Closeup: Thanks, #Bidenomics

All that hard work is about to pay off for New Mexico. This afternoon, the Singapore-based solar manufacturing firm Maxeon announced that it will stake more than $1 billion on a new solar cell and module manufacturing facility, to be located on a 160-acre site at the Mesa Del Sol community in Albuquerque, New Mexico (see more Maxeon news in CleanTechnica here).

According to Maxeon, the new solar manufacturing facility will be the first of its kind in New Mexico, and it will be “double the size of the largest silicon solar manufacturing facility currently operating in the U.S.”

The planned capacity of the solar manufacturing facility is 2 gigawatts. Maxeon is already considering an expansion to 4.5 gigawatts, based on “strong customer demand” as well as the potential for sufficient infrastructure to be available.

Bidenomics is also in play. President Job Biden is not shy about taking credit for job creation under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, and Governor Grisham was happy to come along for the ride.

“This private investment shows how our state programs, paired with President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, have charted a path for New Mexico as a leader in growing the clean energy economy and creating a strong workforce for the future,” she said, in a press statement for Maxeon.

Maxeon CEO Bill Mulligan was also quick to credit the IRA. “The Inflation Reduction Act has catalysed a new chapter in America’s energy transition,” he said. “Our new solar cell and panel facility in New Mexico is an ambitious and concrete response to the need to decarbonize the U.S. economy while creating permanent highly-skilled local manufacturing and engineering jobs.”

“We expect the new plant will also serve as an anchor to attract further regional investment in the solar supply chain,” Mulligan added.

Domestic Solar Manufacturing Has Come A Long Way Since Solyndra

Maxeon’s plans are contingent on securing a clean energy loan guarantee from the Energy Department’s Loan Programs Office, which just announced that it has a pot of $300 billion to share. The wheels seem to be moving in the right direction, with site selection marking a key milestone.

Maxeon advises that nothing is set in stone yet, but if all goes according to plan, they expect to start construction in 2024. The factory will send millions of solar panels into the US market, including rooftop solar as well as utility-scale solar modules, once production begins in 2025.

That’s quite a switcheroo from the sad tale of Solyndra, the startup that aimed to lead the US solar manufacturing revival in the early 2000’s. Solyndra received final approval on a loan guarantee from the Loan Programs Office back in 2009, only to go belly-up in 2011.

The legislative machinery that established the Loan Programs Office dated back to the administration of Republican President George Bush, and Solyndra launched the loan application process during his tenure in the White House. That didn’t stop Republican legislators and pundits from making political hay out of the Solyndra bankruptcy all throughout President Barack Obama’s years in office.

Nevertheless, the Loan Programs Office was engineered to absorb risk in the service of domestic energy innovators. The portfolio was soon back in the black and it is going strong to this day, but the ghost of Solyndra is still providing fodder for the Republican outrage gin mill.

For example, in 2021 Forbes posted an op-ed titled, “Remembering “Solyndra” – How Many $570M Green Energy Failures Are Hidden Inside Biden’s Infrastructure Proposal?” As Axios reported last January, though, Republican politicians who are still digging for a “Solyndra-level energy money mishap” may end up striking dirt in their own backyards.

That is so. States that demonstrate consistent support for ESG principles aren’t the only ones making bank off the revival of clean tech manufacturing. Republican-led states are also feeling the energy transition love, including new electric vehicle factories as well as solar manufacturing and other clean technologies. Public incentives offered by their own state economic development agencies share part of the credit, alongside “right to work” laws that can entice new manufacturers with large pools of compliant, non-union labor.

Georgia is a case in point. Republican Governor Brian Kemp and Attorney General Christopher Carr have both hitched their stars to the anti-ESG bandwagon. Meanwhile, in January Governor Kemp himself lauded a recent expansion of solar manufacturing in the state, when Qcells announced a new investment of more than $2.5 billion to expand its solar module manufacturing operations.

The existing Qcells plant commenced operating in 2019 at a capacity of 1.7 gigawatts. With the addition of two new facilities, Qcells expects its total solar module output in Georgia to reach 8.4 gigawatts by next year.

For the record, the letter signed by Governor Kemp and other Republican governors includes this observation:

“The proliferation of ESG throughout America is a direct threat to the American economy, individual economic freedom, and our way of life, putting investment decisions in the hands of the woke mob to bypass the ballot box and inject political ideology into investment decisions, corporate governance, and the everyday economy.”

Go figure.

Follow @tinamcasey mostly on Bluesky. Also @tinamcasey on Threads, Post, LinkedIn, and Spoutible, or @Casey on Mastodon.

Image: New solar manufacturing facility planned for New Mexico (courtesy of Maxeon, via email).

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

EV Obsession Daily!

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it!! So, we've decided to completely nix paywalls here at CleanTechnica. But...
Like other media companies, we need reader support! If you support us, please chip in a bit monthly to help our team write, edit, and publish 15 cleantech stories a day!
Thank you!

Tesla Sales in 2023, 2024, and 2030

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.
Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Spoutible.


You May Also Like


The 13 grid storage technologies should be five, and that's why one of the biggest barriers to progress right now is confusion over the...


New zinc bromine flow batteries take center stage in the long duration energy storage field, while adding to the list of things that Exxon...

Clean Power

This new offshore floating wind turbine will conquer the Gulf of Maine, if all goes according to plan.

Clean Transport

We live in a time in which it's clear that transportation electrification is absolutely necessary if we are to mitigate the effects of climate...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.