By Kim Seung-yeon
SEOUL, April 7 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris has visited a solar panel factory in Georgia run by South Korea's Hanwha Solutions Corp., announcing what the Joe Biden administration says will be the largest community solar energy project in the history of the United States.
Harris toured the operating solar panel module factory in Dalton, and a nearby site where Hanwha has been expanding its production line, in the southeastern U.S. state, Thursday (U.S. time), Hanwha Solutions said in a release.
Harris addressed a new partnership Hanwha has signed with the Virginia-based Summit Ridge Energy (SRE) to supply solar panel modules capable of generating 1.2 gigawatts (GW) of electricity.
Hanwha Group Vice Chairman Kim Dong-kwan and Hanwha Solutions CEO Lee Koo-yung were present to welcome the vice president.
"Our administration has made the largest investment in solar energy in our nation's history," Harris was quoted by Hanwha as saying in a speech at the plant.
"This order was made possible by the investments our administration has made to expand American manufacturing and increase demand for clean energy. When we invest in climate, clean energy and manufacturing, we invest in America."
The partnership will enable Hanwha and SRE to take part in over 350 community solar projects that are designed to allow people to get access to solar power generated at a shared site instead of at individual houses.
It is regarded as a way to increase public accessibility to clean energy and promote energy equality.
Hanwha said such projects are expected to be carried out across states like California, New York and Ohio over the next four years, powering more than 140,000 homes.
"You and the president have seized on the opportunity for clean energy to revitalize American manufacturing, and we are proud to play a part in this transformation," Kim said in his remarks.
Kim used the occasion to brief Harris on Hanwha's $2.5 billion solar hub project in Georgia, as well as Hanwha's long-term U.S. investment plans in clean energy.
Hanwha Solutions, a key energy unit of South Korea's defense-to-energy conglomerate, is expanding the facility in Cartersville, a city near Dalton, to produce four critical solar components: solar ingots -- a raw material for manufacturing solar wafers that are used as a base for solar panels -- wafers, cells and modules.
The facility will have an annual capacity of 3.3 GW and go into commercial production by the end of next year.
Hanwha Solutions said it plans to increase the solar production capacity at its Dalton plant in Georgia to 5.1 GW from the current 1.7 GW by the end of this year.
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