A factory worker on the Nextracker-dedicated line at JM Steel’s Leetsdale steel facility. (Photo courtesy Nextracker)

Nextracker and JENNMAR Subsidiary JM Steel recently completed an expansion that bolsters the supply chain for critical American-made steel components.

PITTSBURGH—Solar tracker company Nextracker and the contract manufacturer JM Steel recently completed a major expansion of manufacturing lines dedicated to Nextracker at JM Steel’s Leetsdale, Pennsylvania steel facility, achieving 4 GW of annualized capacity, the companies said in a joint release.

The expansion is reported to more than double the production capacity at the refurbished, historic factory, which produces American-made, critical steel components to support rising demand for solar energy across Pennsylvania and the mid-Atlantic. The facility, located near Pittsburgh, leverages leading-edge technology, including state-of-the-art solar tube lines with automated drilling and swedging, according to the release.

Nextracker is a global provider of intelligent solar tracker technologies and software. JM Steel, a subsidiary of JENNMAR Holdings, is a steel processing provider and contract manufacturer of solar tracking systems.

The expansion is said to demonstrate JENNMAR’s commitment to investing heavily in the U.S. solar energy industry. The company is a global provider of infrastructure products and specialized services to the civil infrastructure, solar, mining, and construction industries. JENNMAR’s growth capital investment in support of the U.S. solar industry has exceeded $100 million over the last four years, the company said in the release.

“We are proud to announce the expansion of this historic steel factory in Pittsburgh—which we have been honored to call our home for more than 100 years,” said Tony Calandra, CEO of JENNMAR, in a statement. “This partnership with Nextracker allows for significant investment in advanced manufacturing and brings high-quality jobs back to our communities. We couldn’t be more thrilled to bring our Pennsylvania-based employee count to more than 500.”

According to Nextracker, the expansion marks 20 new or expanded U.S. manufacturing partner facilities since 2021 and enables the company to provide more than 25 GW of U.S. solar tracker capacity each year.

“We are thrilled to be partnered with JM Steel and celebrate the expansion of the Pittsburgh facility to serve customer demand,” said Dan Shugar, founder and CEO of Nextracker, in a statement. “This facility is also expected to produce core components of our new low carbon tracker offering [announced in April].”

Once the home of a steel mill used to build materials for tank landing ships during World War II, the refurbished Leetsdale steel factory is said to represent one of numerous shifts underway in the United States—toward domestic manufacturing, a secure supply chain, and clean energy. The addition of new, dedicated manufacturing lines for solar energy projects at the facility created 60 new manufacturing jobs, the release said.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), solar power now accounts for 53 percent of all new electricity generation in the United States. The nation reportedly added 32.4 GW of solar power in 2023 and surpassed 23.6 GW in the prior year.

“The U.S. solar market is continuing to demonstrate strong growth,” Shugar added. “The U.S. Energy Information Administration has forecasted solar to grow 26 percent on an annual compounded rate and be the number one source of energy in the U.S. within a decade.”

To celebrate the facility expansion, a dedication ceremony was attended by top government officials. including David Crane, Under Secretary for Infrastructure at the US. Department of Energy (DoE), Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania, Austin Davis; U.S. Congressman Chris Deluzio of Pennsylvania’s 17th District; Pennsylvania State Representative Valerie Gaydos; and Matt Smith, chief growth officer, Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

Also attending the event were leaders from some of the world’s largest clean energy companies, including Kelly Speakes-Backman, executive vice president of public affairs at Invenergy, and Yuri Horowitz, CEO of Sol Systems.

Last year, Nextracker opened a dedicated steel production line in Las Vegas with Unimacts, another in Memphis with MSS Steel Tubes USA, and a self-powered controller and high-voltage power supply line in California with Asteelflash. The company also said it has production lines in Texas, Arizona, and Illinois.

“JENNMAR and Nextracker are in a powerful partnership focused on advancing the energy transition and American manufacturing,” said Matt Smith, chief growth officer at the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, in the release. “The future depends on leveraging a diverse portfolio of resources that addresses our environment, energy needs, and economic opportunity.

“This is a win at the convergence of two industries that are pivotal to southwestern Pennsylvania—energy and manufacturing—and we’re proud that our region is a key part of the supply chain that’s helping to bring more solar energy to the market.”