Will Biden's green jobs policy help him win votes?

QCells, a Korean company, is investing $2.5 billion in a solar panel factory in Dalton, Georgia, creating 2,500 jobs in a region with an average household income below the national average. This initiative is part of a larger trend in the United States, driven by President Joe Biden’s 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which offers tax incentives, credits, and loans to stimulate American manufacturing in clean energy. The IRA has generated a surge of private sector investments, with significant implications for the global clean energy industry.

However, the investment in Dalton has not significantly improved President Biden’s support in the Republican district. Some locals, even local Democrats, express resentment towards QCells due to perceived government subsidies for the South Korean company, while local businesses feel they receive no such benefits.

The IRA has been a contentious issue, with Republican lawmakers, including some from Georgia, voting against it. If Republicans win big in the upcoming Congressional elections, portions of the IRA could be repealed, threatening the clean energy boom in their communities across the US.

Meanwhile, China controls 80% of the world’s solar panel supply chain and is expected to spend $675 billion on renewable energy in 2024. To compete, governments worldwide, including the EU and the US, are investing heavily in renewable energy industries. The Biden White House is purposefully channelling these investments into so-called red states in an effort to create a manufacturing revival before the presidential election.

For QCells’ employees, the opportunity has been life-changing. One employee, Alan Rodriguez, left a Dalton carpet mill for QCells and has since progressed from an entry-level position to the engineering team. He appreciates the better working conditions and clean environment at the solar panel factory. President Biden is counting on employees like Rodriguez to help swing red states his way in November.

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