‘Gravy Train’: One US Solar Company Poised To Rake In $11 Billion In Subsidies Thanks To Dem Climate Law

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Nick Pope Contributor
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U.S.-based solar panel manufacturer First Solar may receive up to $11 billion in subsidies from the government thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), according to The Wall Street Journal.

The company expects to receive up to $710 million in subsidies this year alone, which is an amount equivalent to nearly 90% of its predicted operating profit for this year, according to the WSJ. Philip Shen, managing partner at investment bank Roth Capital Partners, estimates that the IRA may end up giving First Solar up to $11 billion in subsidies over the course of the next decade.

The firm’s share price has almost doubled to around $209 since the start of 2022, even as the company has posted several disappointing earnings reports, according to the WSJ. First Solar spent $270,000 in the first three months of 2023 to lobby the government as the Biden administration fleshed out the details of its green energy tax credit programs, a figure which amounts to 80% of the firm’s lobbying expenditures throughout all of 2022, according to data from Open Secrets.

While First Solar stands out as a huge early winner of the Biden administration’s massive green energy agenda, “lots and lots of companies are trying to get on the gravy train—in the solar industry, in the battery industry, in lithium mining,” Pavel Molchanov, a renewables analyst at Raymond James, said, according to the WSJ. (RELATED: ‘Incredible Job’: John Kerry Praises China For Using More Slave-Labor Made Green Energy)

The IRA may ultimately provide $1 trillion in taxpayer funds as subsidies to support the fledgling green energy industry, according to the WSJ. While numerous other companies have made plans to invest a combined $110 billion into green energy infrastructure and manufacturing, First Solar is one of the few firms that currently has U.S.-based factories that make it immediately eligible to reap massive government subsidies, according to the WSJ.

The company has lobbied the federal government to put protective tariffs on Chinese-made solar panel components, according to the WSJ. First Solar’s CEO, Mark Widmar, has called for the government to consider other factors in its subsidy design beyond sticker price, advocating for ensuring energy security given that China controls nearly 80% of the global supply chain for building solar panels, according to the WSJ.

First Solar based more than 80% of its manufacturing capacity in countries like Vietnam and Malaysia as recently as 2018, according to the WSJ. The firm has committed to spending nearly $3 billion on new research and manufacturing facilities in the U.S. since the IRA became law in August 2022.

First Solar did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

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