Microsoft is to procure a large amount of solar panels produced in the US for its renewable energy projects.

South Korean solar panel producer Qcells this week announced an eight-year strategic alliance with Microsoft Corp. to extend the companies’ existing solar panel supply deal.

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– Qcells

In its largest module and engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services agreement to date, Qcells will supply Microsoft with 12GW of solar modules and EPC services over an eight-year period – though this includes the 2.5GW module commitment the companies announced last year.

The two companies aim to bring an estimated 1.5GW of solar panels a year to projects Microsoft has contracted through 2032. The panels will be supplied from Qcells' factory in Cartersville, Georgia, which is due to come online later this year.

“Our expanded agreement with Qcells is designed to drive large-scale domestic production of solar modules essential to advancing a resilient US supply chain and clean energy economy,” said Bobby Hollis, vice president, Energy, Microsoft. “Through long-term agreements like this we are signaling Microsoft’s demand and bringing more renewable energy to the grid, faster.”

Microsoft and Qcells last year announced a partnership that would see the energy firm set up a new US factory and supply up to 2.5GW of solar panel capacity to the cloud company. At the time the companies said the panels would be used in Microsoft’s Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) amid a supply chain crunch.

“We are pleased to be a part of such a substantial commitment that will accelerate the global shift to renewable energy solutions. Qcells is uniquely positioned to ally with Microsoft towards creating a clean, sustainable future because of our investment in building an American-made solar supply chain,” said Justin Lee, CEO of Qcells. “We look forward to expanding renewable energy frontiers together today and tomorrow.”

Qcells is building a new factory in Bartow County, Georgia, which will manufacture 3.3GW of solar ingots, wafers, cells, and finished modules per year. It also has a facility in Dalton, Georgia, which assembles modules, with a capacity of 2GW of modules per year. Qcells plans to add a further 5.11GW of capacity to Dalton, bringing its total output in Georgia to 8.44GW in 2024.

Qcells' new factory will utilize polysilicon produced by REC Silicon in Moses Lake, Washington. The previously dormant factory was revived thanks to more than $200 million in investment from Qcells’ parent company, Hanwha Solutions, in 2022.