Clean energy journalism for a cooler tomorrow

A key piece of the solar supply chain will now be made in America

Enphase produced its first U.S.-made solar microinverter today — and President Biden was at the factory to tout the role his climate law played in making it happen.
By Julian Spector

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A white man with white hair wearing a blue jacket stands at a lectern in front of a crowd. Behind him is an American flag.
President Joe Biden speaks at the Flex manufacturing plant in West Columbia, South Carolina on July 6, 2023. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Enphase, the pioneering solar microinverter company, has begun its first U.S. manufacturing at a factory in West Columbia, South Carolina.

Contract manufacturer Flex owns and operates the facility, which now produces Enphase’s IQ8 microinverter, a device used to turn solar panel output from direct current to alternating current that can power homes and businesses.

President Joe Biden traveled to the factory Thursday to recognize yet another instance of a U.S.-based clean energy company onshoring its manufacturing following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. The law’s 45X provision awards tax credits of 11 cents per watt of capacity for microinverters produced in the U.S. Enphase credited the IRA and strong global demand for making the new U.S. factories possible and said the West Columbia factory will create 600 jobs.

Enphase first commercialized a component that converts solar energy into electricity — all that solar energy doesn’t do a whole lot of good if you can’t convert it into electricity,” Biden said at the factory opening.

Now Enphase is partnering with Flex to make these parts here, in South Carolina. And today, they’re shipping their first microinverters made in America,” he said, before pausing to emphasize one more time: Made in America.”

Enphase plans to open two more U.S. manufacturing sites this year, which will bring its domestic production to 4.5 million microinverters per quarter out of a quarterly total of 10 million globally. The three factories will directly employ an estimated 1,800 workers.

The company first teased the U.S. factory expansion in October. Previously, it had worked with contract manufacturers including Flex and Salcomp in Mexico, India and China to make its products.

We’re trying to align where we’re manufacturing products with where demand is or where we see demand coming,” spokesperson Andrew Newbold told Canary Media at the time. We’re bringing those jobs here for the products that we’re using here.”

Enphase pioneered the miniaturization of inverters so that they could snap on to each solar panel. This allowed for more granular control and troubleshooting compared to the previous designs that had strings of solar modules connected to larger inverters. Years ago, the company nearly crumbled on its path to profitable mass-production of its technology, but Silicon Valley investors T.J. Rodgers and John Doerr intervened in 2017 and brought in the current leadership team to right the ship.

As of late October, Enphase had grown to a $40 billion market cap, but that value has fallen to $22 billion as the stock price slid from all-time highs.

In the months since its passage, the Inflation Reduction Act has encouraged high-profile factory openings from across the clean energy landscape, including lithium-ion batteries, electric vehicles and solar panels. Now, the onshoring of those key products is pulling in the production of auxiliary devices, like microinverters, which play an essential supporting role in the shift to solar power.

This rapid manufacturing expansion is part of the broader push to build domestic supply chains that can support the country’s exploding clean energy needs, Biden said at the event, noting that the increasing investment is all a direct result of the…Inflation Reduction Act.”

Julian Spector is a senior reporter at Canary Media. He reports on batteries, long-duration energy storage, low-carbon hydrogen and clean energy breakthroughs around the world.