Climate Now

Made in America: The next generation of solar

August 28, 2023 James Lawler Season 1 Episode 111
Climate Now
Made in America: The next generation of solar
Show Notes Transcript

You may recall an Auxin Solar tariff case in which a small domestic solar PV manufacturer, Auxin Solar, alleged that solar cells produced in Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam were circumventing U.S. trade duties against China. On August 18th, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued their final ruling in the case, determining that solar cells from those countries were in fact circumventing U.S. trade duties. Companies will now be required to self-certify that they are not circumventing U.S. trade duties against China. 

Why was this case such a big deal? Most solar cells sold in the U.S. have been sourced from Asia, so U.S. solar developers will now have to pay more to get their solar panels from those countries. With the tariff, and tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act, many solar developers are now looking for domestic solar manufacturers instead. Up to 155 GW of new U.S. manufacturing capacity has been announced over the last year, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA). In this episode, we are joined by Leslie Chang, Director of Strategy and Policy at domestic solar manufacturer Caelux Corporation to understand what this means for business and U.S. solar adoption.

How do we build the capacity to manufacture solar in the US?

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James Lawler: [00:00:00] I'm James Lawler, and this is Climate Now, the podcast that explores and explains the ideas, technologies, and the solutions that we'll need to address the climate emergency. This is the second episode in a series on the future of energy generation, storage, transmission, and distribution. In this episode, we continue to focus on solar power, motivated by a simple question.

Given that the sun is a source of virtually unlimited energy, at least as far as human needs are concerned, how can we capture what we need and deliver it at the lowest possible cost? Today, part of that answer lies in solar photovoltaic panels, also known as PVs. In the United States at least, solar power is still in its early stages. 

As of February, 2023, photovoltaic solar accounted for just over 4% of US electricity generation, according to the Energy Information Administration, but that number is growing. Solar has experienced an average [00:01:00] annual growth rate of 24% over the last 10 years, and the cost to install solar has dropped more than 50% in that timeframe, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

However, more than three quarters of solar photovoltaic panel modules or solar panels and accessories are made in China, and it currently costs 30 to 40% more to make a solar panel in the United States. To make up for this production cost difference and to help US companies compete with Chinese manufacturers, the US has been imposing a tariff on Chinese-made solar products since 2012

Whether tariffs are effective or not is one of the several issues I discussed today with Leslie Chang, who is director of strategy and policy at the Caelux Corporation. Caelux doesn't manufacture solar panels, but rather outfits existing solar panels with a special photovoltaic coating that the company claims increases the overall power output by 30%.

In our conversation, Leslie discusses how the Caelux technology works and shares her insights into [00:02:00] the industry as a whole and what it will take to supercharge solar power deployment in America. But first, our news segment This Week in Climate News.

This week in climate news, I'm joined by my friend Darren Hau. 

Darren Hau: Hey James. 

James Lawler: So, Bloomberg reports that nationwide, the average American has been exposed to a cumulative total of more than 400 micrograms of pm 2.5 pollution per person. Now, this is more than twice the cumulative exposure for every year from 2006 to 2019. So everything that, you know, the average American inhaled between 2006 and 2019 was doubled this year and it's already worse than, you know, the years between 2020 and 2022 when the US West experienced extreme wildfire seasons.

So I think that this is really, this is really interesting. So, so personally, I, I find that I'm quite affected whenever, you know, the 2.5 sort of AQI reading [00:03:00] is above, let's say 47, 48 or 50. So it's something that, like, I've been aware of, I would say for a couple of years. And whenever there are fires, you know, I sort of note the spike, you know, be, be sensitive to it.

And this year I would say it, it sort of just felt like where I am in the Northeastern United States, you know, every two weeks or so, you know, there's been that, that spike above the 50 reading on the, the air quality index and it's, you know, it's quite interesting to think about a future where, you know, most people, most days are breathing in 50 plus, 60 plus level smoke. It's quite scary, you know, to think about that and what that will mean in terms of public health. Darren, do you have any, any thoughts on that? 

Darren Hau: I mean, I think it's a pretty obvious negative in terms of what we're seeing. I think the interesting story of this year broadly is just that more of the world and, more specifically, more of the [00:04:00] US are seeing some of the problems that we have been pretty familiar with here in California from, you know, wildfires and so on.

You know, this summer just massively high temperatures across the US. Actually, California was quite temperate, so we kind of got lucky this year and had a lot of rain. 

James Lawler: Yeah. As did we, in the Northeast. Yeah. 

Darren Hau: But wildfires in the Northeast in Canada, you know, obviously the devastating wildfire in Maui, you know, these are really tragic things that show that there's an impact of a gradually changing climate today.

So we're just not very good, I think at calculating what these costs are and then, and then reacting quickly to them. Because historically, these industries like insurance and, and disaster relief are- you know, we expect these to be one-time freak events or issues that will gradually and slowly change and we can adjust to.

But you know-

James Lawler: Yeah. 

Darren Hau: -we're seeing a lot more these days

James Lawler: So it seems to me that there could be a tipping point in terms of public interest in the changing [00:05:00] climate that is connected to these fires. And I, I'm not talking just about the reactions to all of the images in the media and the terrible stories coming out of Maui and Canada and you know, the places where the fires actually occur.

I'm talking more about the health impacts of smoke inhalation. And the degree to which people start to actually feel that. In a world where the number of fires doubles or triples, which is the world we're unfortunately heading for at least, we're all gonna be breathing in, you know, a multiple more smoke.

So the number of days that the, that the index is over 50 or 60, or 70 or 80, is going to dramatically increase. That's gonna lead to serious, you know, health risks and health outcomes in the shorter and long term for many, many millions of people. If that doesn't focus attention in dollars on dramatically accelerating a transition, I'm not sure what would.

Darren Hau: Yeah. I, I, I'll just chime in here. I think that we have room for optimism among [00:06:00] how disturbing this news is, and that is that when people see some of these localized impacts-

James Lawler: Mm-hmm. 

Darren Hau: -humans tend to change, uh, more quickly than sometimes we give ourselves credit for. And if you take a look at the history-

James Lawler: Yeah.

Darren Hau: -the creation of the EPA and a lot of our Clean Air Act and, and you know, our positive steps like those, those were originally instituted in response to very localized pollution impacts, not cl- not climate change, right?

We saw smog and, you know, acid rain and things like that and that's what got us to build these really important institutions to move us in the right direction. So I'm pretty, actually optimistic about this with one caveat, which is we need to make sure we don't over-politicize this issue, right?

Because, at the end of the day, it affects all of us and we want all of us to be invested in solving these problems. 

James Lawler: Yeah, right. These fires, as we're seeing from the smoke data, they aren't local. I mean, they are in terms of where they happen, where the majority of the devastation occurs, but then everyone breathes that, right?

Everyone is breathing in the, the [00:07:00] effects of that, so, If anything can cut through the politicization of the issue. I think you know, this, unfortunately, will.

Darren Hau: One of the articles I'd love to bring up today is around the United Auto Workers, the UAW and their impending strikes with the big American auto manufacturers, including Ford, GM, et cetera.

This one's interesting because things have really come to a head. I think there's multiple factors at play here. One is the increased negotiating leverage of labor versus corporations, especially in the supply and labor cu- crunches that we've experienced post-pandemic. Another one is a more, you know, a longer-term trajectory that we have seen since, you know, the great financial crisis in 2008.

But maybe I should take a step back and say, essentially what's happening here is the UAW is threatening to go on strike. And they are requesting or, rather demanding, wage increases of up to 40% [00:08:00] compared to before to not go on strike. Obviously, the big auto manufacturers are leery of this. Labor costs can constitute a fairly large portion of their expenses.

Ford in particular, I believe, has higher labor expenses compared to their competitors. What's really tricky about this is that I think both sides have valid concerns, and that's why it's such a difficult issue to resolve. On the labor front, auto workers have not seen their wages really increase ever since the great financial crisis when they agreed to take certain compensation cuts in order to keep the companies afloat, and I think the union leaders feel like those should now be shared.

On the other hand, this transition to electric vehicles is an extremely capital-intensive one. And folks from GM and Ford and Stellantis are all very concerned about how they're gonna navigate that transition. Everyone thinks about Tesla and how [00:09:00] much profit margin you could potentially make on electric vehicles, but I think we all have to keep in mind that they were losing money for 15 years and that's not necessarily a position that the legacy automakers can afford to do.

The auto companies need to be very careful about how they make this transition to electric vehicles. So if we shift to EVs, there will be fewer auto jobs. This is a tough one, an interesting one to keep, keep an eye on. And I think, as a country, we just have to figure out how do we stay economically competitive while still ensuring that there are sustainable pathways for, you know, our labor force. 

James Lawler: All right. Thank you, Darren. 

Darren Hau: See you guys.

James Lawler: And now for our interview. Before she joined Caelux, Leslie Chang worked as a global impact consultant for clients, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank and the UN. At Caelux, she works to develop strategies and solutions to bolster the domestic solar power industry and help solar become a [00:10:00] staple of American power.

Leslie, it's great to have you on the podcast today. Thank you for joining us. 

Leslie Chang: Hi, James. Yeah, it's great to be here. I'm calling in from Baldwin Park, where our factory is at, so if you hear, kind of, warehouse sounds, construction sounds in the background, I apologize for that, but hope it adds to the ambiance.

James Lawler: Indeed. Yeah. And so this is an authentic conversation. You are in fact working at a company that is making something that needs to be moved around, so we can verify that. 

Leslie Chang: Absolutely. 

James Lawler: So, Leslie, tell us, you know, what company do you work for? What is your role? 

Leslie Chang: Sure. So, I work at a solar startup called Caelux Corporation.

I am the director of strategy and policy, and I've been at this company for about two and a half years now, working on a range of things unrelated to the technology. So it's thinking about, as we're building up our capacity to manufacture solar in the United States, what is the strategy for [00:11:00] doing so domestically and internationally?

Who are the stakeholders we have to be engaging with? So you can imagine that's anything from local policymakers to education providers and how are we really talking about this? Recognizing that solar is something that's been around in the United States for a long time, but really seems to be making a comeback.

James Lawler: So Caelux is actually manufacturing panels, right? 

Leslie Chang: So we don't talk about Caelux as manufacturing panels. We actually talk about Caelux as enhancing solar panels. So if you think in your mind's eye, imagine a solar panel like a sandwich, right? So you've got the top glass, let's say it's white bread and peanut butter in the middle. That's crystal and silicon. 

So that's what absorbs sunlight, converts it into electricity, and then you've got the bottom glass, which is another piece of white bread. And that sandwich is what gives you nutrition for your house. What Caelux does is we, we have created a chemical formulation called [00:12:00] perovskites that we coat that top glass with.

And so, now that top glass is a second solar cell. So we've turned that into, say like Ezekiel seven grain bread, right? So now you have both the crystal and silicon and that top glass converting sunlight into a- electricity, and so that stack is- remains the same, right? Kind of the base ingredients remain the same.

We've just added a little coating in there, but the whole thing becomes a whole lot more powerful in terms of being able to convert sunlight into electricity. It's a very big deal to be able to go to the market and be the first to say that we have a 30% efficient panel. Because you can imagine, right? Now panel manufacturers can charge more for that product.

Right? Because it's more powerful. 

James Lawler: Mm-hmm. 

Leslie Chang: Because it's more powerful going further downstream, developers and installers can then say, okay, well we can actually take the same plot of land, put the same number of solar panels on [00:13:00] it, but actually generate more electricity. And then, at the homeowner's level, instead of needing to put between 16 to 18 panels on your house, you now only maybe need to put like, 12 to 14, right?

James Lawler: Mm-hmm. 

Leslie Chang: So there's cost savings and cost gains all the way down the value chain, and that's what our value proposition is, right? We're here to help not only the entire industry, but really accelerate our ability to generate more electricity and quicker. 

James Lawler: Okay. And so there's no d- diminution in the amount of energy that can be produced by the underlying crystalline silicon layer?

Leslie Chang: So the perovskite layer is semi-transparent. So, there is a little bit of light filtering involved here. And just to go into a little bit more of the science behind here, so perovskites capture high-energy light. So if you think about the visible light spectrum, there's like, a whole rainbow of colors, right?

Perovskites capture the blue chunk of that spectrum, whereas crystalline [00:14:00] silicon captures low-frequency red light, so when you put them together, there's a little bit of overlap in the middle, right? Because there's, on one hand, you have everything that the perovskite is capturing, and then on the other hand, you have everything that the silicon is capturing, but because it's along the spectrum, there's gonna be a little bit of overlap in the middle, so it's not quite, like, a hundred percent of the perovskite with a hundred percent of the silicon.

It's more like a hundred percent of the perovskite, light filters down over to the silicon, and then maybe 40 to 50% of the silicon. What we're finding, though, is that, first of all, the, kind of, overall output is so much greater that it, it doesn't really quite matter-

James Lawler: 30%. 

Leslie Chang: -that you're not- yeah, exactly.

James Lawler: About 30% greater, okay. 

Leslie Chang: 30% greater

James Lawler: Got it. 

Leslie Chang: Right. So first of all, like, kind of, your overall efficiency gains are so great, it doesn't really quite matter that you're not capturing quite as much at the silicon. But what we're finding also is that, over time, perovskite, because it's being exposed to so much light, it actually gets lighter in color.

[00:15:00] And so the hypothesis is that, down the line, as you're putting these kind of enhanced solar panels out in the field, as the perovskite degrades, you're gonna be able to capture more of the silicon. And also because silicon isn't exposed to so many, so much harsh conditions, it might actually preserve the lifetime of the silicon.

That's the hypothesis. 

James Lawler: Interesting. So in your role, director of strategy and policy, what are some of the main challenges that you are facing right now to, kind of, deploy this technology? Tell us more about, sort of, what you deal with on a day-to-day basis on the policy end of things. 

Leslie Chang: Yeah, I mean, I think before I go into challenges, I really have to stop and say, kind of, what a big windfall the Inflation Reduction Act has been for the industry.

I mean, I don't think the federal government has ever committed so much to building out renewable energy domestically within the United States, and I would say that, [00:16:00] that second part, right? Actually building things in the United States. I think that's the biggest challenge because the, the thesis for a long time with economists and the federal government was that we can source such cheap labor and products out of China.

And now the government saying, oh, wait a minute, you know, now we're a little bit too reliant on this one country, right? That has the potential to kind of cut off our supply chain. Most of the world's supply of polysilicate, I wanna say over 90% comes from China, and that is the majority of what solar cells are made out of.

And so the challenge now is really how do we build the capacity to manufacture things in the United States, recognizing that that takes a couple of components. So you have to have manufacturers who are willing to set up factories, set up shop, willing to go out and hire people. You need a workforce that is prepared to kind of meet the [00:17:00] challenge, right?

And then on the other side, you need investors and developers who are willing to say, yeah, like this is something that is either beneficial for the economy or beneficial for my wallet, and this is something that I wanna invest in. 

James Lawler: To be clear, only one of those questions is relevant, let's be honest. But go on.

Leslie Chang: I have to be a little bit pollyannaish because I work in climate change, but yes, I mean it's, it's the dollars at the end of the day, right? 

James Lawler: Okay. You mentioned that 90% of the polysilicate is produced in China, but what about the rest of the solar panel manufacturing supply chain? 

Leslie Chang: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. 

James Lawler: So maybe -just if you, if you happen to know- to describe for us where the different components come from, where the assembly happens, to the point where you actually have a, a deployable solar panel for someone's home or utility installation.

Leslie Chang: So there are a couple different ingredients, I would say that go into making the [00:18:00] solar panels. So you've got the solar cell, right? The, the, the polysilicon, you've got the glass. But really the most important process is actually the- where it all comes together, right? The process by which you can assemble all of these solar cells onto a piece of glass, place charge collection tapes and wiring, test it and make sure that it actually works. Right? 

Seal it, so put the glass on, laminate it, seal it, make sure that it's essentially weatherproof, right? You're not gonna get oxygen or air in. And all of that relies on a lot of capital equipment. And that has been a little bit of a pain point for the United States as well, because we don't quite manufacture CapEx anymore either.

And so the two, kind of, major players, again, in this market are China, as you may have guessed, also Germany. What happened during the pandemic, I referenced supply chain earlier, [00:19:00] was that all of a sudden orders were put on hold, and so people weren't buying things anymore. In fact, we stopped making things or they started shutting down.

Now that production is ramping up, and even more so because of the Inflation Reduction Act, there's been a really big struggle across the industry because lead times are incredibly long. We're having to ship things over. It takes a really long time to ship. Freight is incredibly expensive now, and so, you know, the process by which you then- you have to mechanically take these glass, take these cells and assemble it becomes a lot harder. 

So assembly is happening here in the United States. A lot of the inputs are sourced from China, but because of certain, kind of, made in America guidelines set out by the federal government, the end product of a solar panel looks very different from the initial inputs, right? 

I mean, the process by which, you know, all of these raw ingredients becomes a panel end to end, it probably takes about 90 seconds, but that 90 seconds, it's [00:20:00] done by incredibly complex robots and machines. And that's, I think, really the part- that's the value add and that's also a big pain point for manufacturers in the United States. 

James Lawler: I guess coming back to a question I, I, I posed earlier, Leslie, what is the focus of your work when it comes to policy?

You know, you mentioned the additional incentive for domestic manufacturing and, kind of, what the value is of that to Caelux. But, as we look forward to, sort of, some of the political uncertainty that's ahead of us and, and the risks that might exist to some of these, you know, provisions from Inflation Reduction.

Uh, are those concerns significant to you, to someone in your position? 

Leslie Chang: So, up until recently, my main focus was at the federal level. So it was really thinking about how we ensure a passage of IRA, right? Because the Inflation Reduction Act, as it pertains to solar and renewables at large, [00:21:00] it provides both production credits and tax credits, and so it's providing incentives on both ends, right?

It's both for existing manufacturers, but also incentivizing new manufacturers. Looking ahead, I mean, with the, kind of, uncertainty around 2024 onward and, kind of, increasing concerns about climate change, all of that focus is shifting towards implementation, making sure that the connection between federal policies and state and local policies connect. And it's really helping states and regions understand what it means to support a manufacturer in their area.

That's really the bulk of my focus right now. It's working with local policy makers and local community stakeholders to think about what kind of environment we have to build in order to be able to ensure that Caelux and therefore, kind of, the surrounding communities can [00:22:00] benefit from Caelux. 

James Lawler: And so, what are those conversations like?

You know, like what, in your mind, does need to be built and where are we today in terms of our ability to kind of satisfy those various conditions for a robust domestic solar manufacturing supply chain? 

Leslie Chang: Education is one that I've, I've mentioned this a couple times, but I think it's, it's just so key. I mean, we talk about the importance of creating a green economy and creating a green workforce really goes part and parcel with that.

I mean, it has to be the same sentence because we can only generate so many gigawatts of renewable energy if we have the workforce behind it to drive it, and this has to be a highly skilled, highly competent workforce that wants to work in this industry. Right?

On the other hand, there's a level of education that needs to happen right now around public consciousness, around what solar is, how much does it cost, [00:23:00] and is it right for me? 

Because the economy is in a weird place, and I think the messaging around solar has been very hyper-focused within wealthier neighborhoods, you see it in places where people have money. That should not be the case. That's something that we're actively trying to push for: the democratization of solar, making sure that everybody has access to this.

And I think, in fact, more critically, the most, I think vulnerable communities, those that are most vulnerable to climate change, have access to solar because then you can build stronger grid resiliency. 

James Lawler: And what would you say to a skeptic who says, you know, well, you know, these, these solar panels, you know, the- China's production of solar has really driven down the cost to such a degree that even with, you know, let's say innovations like this, like, like Caelux is coming to the table with, these are never gonna- this- manufacturing solar panels is never gonna be a high road jobs proposition, meaning you're never gonna have high-paying manufacturing jobs in the United States [00:24:00] because it's just too expensive here. 

What makes you confident in that narrative that you were describing earlier? That, you know, we can have higher-paying manufacturing jobs in America, even, you know, in spite of the fact that China's driven down the cost so much, so far.

Leslie Chang: I would really say it depends on whether or not you believe that the United States can exert its force as a global superpower and not be beholden to China and make the right decisions for its people. I think continuing to rely on China weakens our- weakens, all of our, I think, strategic advantages as a country, and it puts us incredibly at risk of being too dependent on, frankly, a supplier of electricity. 

You see what's going on in Russia and Ukraine right now. I mean, the European Union is struggling, like the, the race for energy independence has never been so hot as it [00:25:00] is right now, and I think it's because we all have had this reality check of this is what happens when an adversarial country provides your natural resources. 

So, I think that's been a big wake up call for the United States and the government is-

James Lawler: Mm-hmm. 

Leslie Chang: -certainly taking steps in the right direction. And I think beyond that, right? There has to be a little bit of stretching the imagination to say what kind of can- country does the United States want to be, right? What will it take to get there and how are everyday people gonna be involved? 

And I think that's why education and, kind of, agitation around renewable energy is so important, because there has to not only be that supply side, but the demand has to be there as well. 

James Lawler: Right, right. So you would argue that it comes back to policy.

Leslie Chang: Yes.

James Lawler: Like, to create these supply chains here, it comes back to policy and sort of forcing that to happen. 

Leslie Chang: Yes. 

James Lawler: So could you talk about the Auxin, sort of, disruption in the [00:26:00] solar PV market, like what happened? You're arguing right now for, you know, a more US-centric supply chain, but is this realistic? 

Leslie Chang: That is a really good question because the solar industry is very divided about tariffs and how to tax products that are coming in from Asian countries. So, there is something called- there's anti-circumvention rules out there, which essentially, it means it's trying to stop Chinese exporters from just routing their products to a different company or a different country and then exporting it to the United States.

James Lawler: So I wanna take a moment here to give some additional background to our listeners who may not be familiar with the latest in the solar industry. As I mentioned at the beginning, the US imposes tariffs on Chinese solar imports to level the playing field for domestic producers, something that the US has done since 2012.

In 2022, Auxin Solar, which is a [00:27:00] solar module company in California, filed a complaint with the Department of Commerce claiming that major Chinese solar panel makers were circumventing tariffs by laundering their products through assembly plants in Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia. A report by Solar Power World found that, once the DOC started investigating, the majority of imports coming from the region slowed to a near halt as manufacturers waited to see what the DOC would find.

The problem, however, is that 80% of silicon-based solar panels come into the United States from those four countries. Less than a month after the Department of Commerce launched its investigation, more than 300 solar projects had been canceled or delayed

To help companies continue to build and install solar infrastructure, the Biden administration put a two year tariff moratorium on imported solar panels from Southeast Asia in June, 2022. We recorded this conversation with Leslie in May of 2023, before this situation resolved. 

On August 18th of this year, the US Department [00:28:00] of Commerce finalized its investigation and announced that it was implementing tariffs for importing solar panels from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam, which will only go into effect in June of 2024, when President Biden's Southeast Asian solar tariff moratorium ends.

Now, back to our conversation. 

Leslie Chang: There are two camps here, right? So there's the- there's this first camp that says we need to make sure that we build up our supply immediately, right? So let's, kind of, take a wholesale approach to cutting off imports. Let's just kind of tax everything, slap on tariffs and let's essentially draw a line in the sand and say, we're committing now to producing domestically, and we're kind of using this as a signal to say, hey, China and other countries, you can't get away with this anymore. That's camp one. 

Camp two is smaller manufacturers that are saying, Hey, wait a minute. I mean, we don't [00:29:00] have that supply here in the United States yet, right? We're still building up our ability to create solar cells. I, as a small business owner, have to rely on these cheaper imports in order to stay competitive in the market. If I don't have that, I could go out of business. It's actually a very tense and very fraught, I think, landscape right now. 

And you can, you can see understandably where both camps are coming from, right? On one end, we absolutely wanna get to the point where we wanna be manufacturing everything domestically. On the other hand, we aren't there yet. We need to build that capacity to get there. And that involves everything I mentioned, right? It has- you have to have policy support, you need to have local intervention, you need to have investment, you need to have, kind of, company commitment and education and all of these things.

I mean, Caelux, we're, we're of the mind that you'd need- you do need to take a phased approach to getting to where you wanna go, right? So [00:30:00] not wholesale, cutting everything out, but putting in interim markers along the way such that you're providing incentives for folks to wean off dependency on foreign products, while also making sure that you're not draining the market of supply. 

And I think, critically, when people think about the solar kind of value chain, they oftentimes start with manufacturers and they end with consumers when in reality, the first player in this value chain is gonna be the investors. And if solar shops across the United States are closing up, they're gonna say, Well, there's no market for this, right? There's no point in investing, even if there's something like the Inflation Reduction Act, because these- I'm not gonna be able to see my returns. 

James Lawler: Mm-hmm. 

Leslie Chang: And the only big players in the market are the ones who can afford to make their own, kind of, end-to-end panel.

And they already have investment, right? So what, what is the appetite for new products and new, new factories and new plants? [00:31:00] So it's definitely an ongoing debate. 

James Lawler: Great. Well, I wanna thank you. This has really been a, like, genuinely fantastic conversation and I, I really appreciate you making time for us at Climate Now.

So thanks for joining us. 

Leslie Chang: Thanks so much, James. This was a lot of fun and hope to speak with you again soon.

James Lawler: And that's it for this episode of the podcast. To learn more about the potential future of solar power and the energy sector in general, you can check out our other podcast conversations at And if you'd like to get in touch, email us at Hope you'll join us for our next conversation.

Climate now is made possible in part by our science partners, like the Livermore Lab Foundation. The Livermore Lab Foundation supports climate research and carbon cleanup initiatives at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, which is the Department of Energy applied science and research facility. More information on the foundation's climate work can be [00:32:00] found at