In northern Georgia, near the Tennessee line, the city of Dalton made its fame as the carpet capital of the world. These days, a more accurate title would be floor covering capital of the world. It has diversified into hardwood, tile, laminate and other materials.
And in a big move last year, Dalton added a new industry to its manufacturing mix: the largest solar panel assembly plant in the Western hemisphere, a $150 million investment.
This is just one sign that in Georgia, solar is booming.
And it’s not for the reasons you might expect. Like most states in the Southeast, Georgia doesn’t have the kind of state-level mandates that have propelled the growth of renewable energy in other parts of the country. Nor is it because of a groundswell of public concern over climate change or the need to curb greenhouse gases.
Instead, there are powerful market forces at work. The U.S. is the second-largest market for solar in the world, after China. Ever cheaper and better solar technology, available land and lots of sunshine are driving demand for massive, utility-scale solar projects across the American Southeast.