Silicon Valley Getting a Rare New U.S. Solar-Manufacturing Plant

Standard Industries Inc., one of the world’s largest roofing companies, is deepening its bet on solar by building a rare U.S. panel factory in Silicon Valley.

The company’s GAF Energy is investing more than $50 million in a manufacturing, research and development plant in San Jose, California, that will employ about 150 people.

“We are bringing solar manufacturing back to the U.S.,” Martin DeBono, president of GAF Energy, said in an interview. “There’s a lot of solar talent in Silicon Valley and in California.”

The new plant comes as President Joe Biden’s administration contemplates how to revive domestic clean-tech manufacturing as part of a push to sharply increase renewable power. It’s not a new challenge for the country, which depends on overseas panels for much of its solar capacity. Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, imposed tariffs on imported solar equipment.

Since its 2019 inception, GAF Energy has focused on a segment of the residential-solar market that Tesla Inc. has eyed: full rooftops. GAF Energy’s solar roof features panels laid flat against the top of a house, surrounded by shingles.

GAF Energy has installed about 2,000 solar roofs -- a trickle of the U.S. residential market -- in more than a dozen states. DeBono expects another 2,000 will be deployed this year.

The new plant project involves building improvements at a 112,000-square-foot facility that the company is leasing for nine years.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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