Today we are taking the latest step in Nextracker’s manufacturing reshoring initiative that’s seen us open new factories, reopen previously shuttered plants, and start new lines at existing factories across more than a half dozen states.
We’re specifically working with our supply partner Asteelflash to dedicate a new electronics manufacturing line in Fremont, California that will produce Nextracker’s self-powered controllers. Among the over 10 new factories and production lines, some build the backbone of our system, making tracker tubes out of steel. But in Fremont, we’re going to build the “brain” and power supply of our tracker controllers.
To my mind, today’s opening is perhaps our most important step to date in our reshoring initiative, and I’ll tell you why. You’ve all seen the flurry of big tech company layoffs, but what you might not know is how severely U.S. manufacturing of printed circuit boards (PCBs) has contracted. According to the Global Association for Electronics Manufacturing:
“Since 2000, the U.S. share of global PCB [printed circuit board] production has fallen from over 30% to just 4% with China now dominating the sector at around 50%. Only four of the top 20 electronics manufacturing services (EMS) companies are [now] based in the United States.”
By itself, our opening today doesn’t reverse either of those trends. But it cuts against both trends. It’s our company’s way of rebalancing global supply chains so they are more reliable, more stable, and contributing to a more vibrant business environment here in the U.S.
I also think our initiative is the smart long-term move.
Even before the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) rewarded reshoring, Nextracker was already bringing manufacturing and jobs back to America because the benefit of stable supply chains was significantly greater than higher manufacturing costs in the U.S. Our customers and financial markets have responded, and their verdict has been uniformly positive.
Today’s event also highlights key U.S. policies, such as the IRA and the National Export Strategy’s goals to advance U.S. leadership in industries of the future. That includes solar power.
According to the American Clean Power Association, clean energy currently makes up 15% of U.S. electricity. In just the past year, in the U.S., customer pull for locally made components has paired with industrial policy resulting in more than $270 billion in investment in clean energy projects and manufacturing facilities, with announcements of 83 new or expanded manufacturing facilities. In fact, more money was invested into utility-scale clean energy projects and manufacturing facilities in the U.S. in just seven months (8/22-3/23) than the total investment into clean power projects in the four years between 2017 and 2021. Wood Mackenzie reports that the U.S. solar industry just had its best first quarter in history and is expected to triple in size over the next five years.
Here are some important stats about what we’ll be doing in Fremont going forward:
● In this 197,000-square-foot Silicon Valley factory we are manufacturing printed circuit board assemblies (PCBA) and other critical components of our patented NX Horizon™ controller.
● Nextracker’s self-powered trackers are highly reliable over a wide range of conditions and include a backup battery, allowing the trackers to still function even if grid power is down during extreme weather events.
Hat tip to some important people who helped us today.
Clearway recently announced a two-gigawatt VCA with Nextracker. Clearway CEO Craig Cornelius said:
“With Nextracker’s precise control over tracker row angles and rapid stowing capabilities in extreme weather conditions, our growing fleet will set new standards of module protection and help ensure the reliability and resilience of the solar industry.”
Joining me for the ribbon cutting were:
● Rebecca Cranna of Cypress Creek Renewables
● David Hochschild of the California Energy Commission
● Matt Behringer of Asteelflash
● Lily Mei 高敘加 Fremont Mayor
● Craig Cornelius of Clearway Energy
● Frank Macchiarola of the American Clean Power Association (ACP)
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